Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829)

Steel engraving, circa 1820 (StadtMuseum Bonn)
Steel engraving, circa 1820 (StadtMuseum Bonn)

As early as in his adolescent years, Schumann had already dealt with the philosopher, writer and literary critic Friedrich Schlegel, brother of the literary historian and later professor at Bonn University, August Wilhelm Schlegel. The records of his literary association list the reading of Schlegel’s writings on Old German literature and on education. Schumann prefaced his Fantasie [Fantasy] in C major, Op. 17, with a quote from Schlegel, which is also entered in his collection of mottoes, compiled between 1828 and 1835:  Durch alle Töne tönet/ Im bunten Erdentraum/ Ein leiser Ton gezogen / Für den der heimlich lauschet [Resounding through all the notes / In the earth's colourful dream / There sounds a faint long-drawn note / For the one who listens in secret]. The Fantasy was written between 1836 and 1838 and was first meant to be called Große Sonate von Florestan und Eusebius [Grand Sonata of Florestan and Eusebius]. Another title passed down was Obolen auf Beethovens Monument [Obols on Beethoven’s Monument], as Schumann had originally planned to support the financing of Beethoven’s monument in Bonn with the proceeds from the sale of this piece. The Fantasy was finally published in 1839 with a dedication to Franz Liszt.

Sigrid Lange, translated by Thomas Henninger

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