Trends in Schumann research
The beginning of independent Schumann research – if we disregard articles in contemporary journals and reference works – can be dated to the publication of W. J. v. Wasielewski’s Schumann biography (1858). It would appear excessive (as once done by Joachim Draheim in a pointed and ironic manner) to apply to this book and its author Oscar Wilde’s bon mot according to which the biography of a famous person is always written by the Judas amongst his disciples. In fact, in respect of the factuality in Wasielewski’s presentation, his diligence, resourcefulness and meticulousness have to be pointed out, which makes it indispensable still today to occasionally resort to his book, although, of course, it should not be used as a sole biographical source, as done by Dieter Schnebel conveniently enough. This book, naturally, as any other one, contained various misjudgements and distortions of details,which were listed in a review by Hermann Deiters, vigorously approved of by Brahms and Clara Schumann (the latter, incidentally, not having provided the biographer with any material), shortly after publication of the book already. Quite a few musical judgements made by Wasielewski can be challenged anyhow, which is amazing given that he – as documented in his later book, Schumanniana, and his book Aus siebzig Jahren - Lebenserinnerungen [Over seventy years – memoirs] – had enjoyed personal contact with the composer over a number of years and was counted amongst the latter’s favourite musical interpreters. The attached documents and letters presented by Wasielewski, which,in turn, often originated from personal contacts with contemporary witnesses, should, however, be valued positively by all means.
The author supplemented and improved his presentation in two further editions (1869, 1880), whilst the fourth edition (1906), the one mainly used today, was taken care of by Wasielewski’s son, Waldemar, a natural scientist and publisher of Goethe’s works, and made accessible in a reprint in 1995.
Against Wasielewski’s work, subsequent Schumann biographies, laid out more scarcely, by August Reißmann, Philipp Spitta, and Heinrich Reimann (irrespective of some shorter works, such as those by Richard Batka , Ernst Wolff, or Hermann v. d. Pfordten), offered only little new facts, although they did offer slightly varied aspects of how to interpret Schumann’s works. A new standard of Schumann biographies was set in a superiorly designed presentation by Hermann Aberts (1903) only, continued in the works by Walter Dahms, Ernst Bücken, Werner Korte, Karl H. Wörner, as well as Paula und Walter Rehberg, up until after World War II. The range of biographically-orientated works was further joined by Die Davidsbündler [The members of the League of David] by F. Gustav Jansen (1883), a detailed study of a limited period of life, notably the “Storm and Stress period” in Schumann, which was of the highest research level and also led to further works by the same author.
There were primarily, that is, as to their main content, documentary publications, notably editions of original sources, which were, of course, supplemented by valuable and detailed assessments and a huge number of annotations. This already applied to the Members of the League of David where Jansen, along with a thorough overview of the period of life under consideration, some “[Essays on the Members of the League of David]” and valuable “[Portrait sketches from Schumann’s circle of friends]”, he further included some 60 letters, unprinted so far. For the purpose of completeness, he expanded this material in his two large editions of Schumann’s letters and writings, which are of exemplary value up to this day and which were to constitute an essential basis of Schumann research for a long time.
By May 1885, Clara Schumann, with the assistance of a friend of hers, Heinrich v. Herzogenberg, had reviewed her husband’s letters, collected by herself, and selected a certain number for a printout,which just included “[youth letters]” to Schumann’s mother, some friends, and Clara, and also further extracts from letters to the bride, to be named accordingly. This edition, published in the autumn of the same year, very successful in its effect, featured no editorial contribution at all, apart from a preface, and thus renounced any explanations and contained numerous abridgements. It is remarkable,however, that Clara also included some letters presumed forwarded, of which it was not clear whether they actually reached their recipients. F. Gustav Jensen skilfully followed up on this edition by naming his collection of letters, first published in 1886. “[Letters. New series]”, although it was of a totally different nature and claims (the register of persons applies to both editions). As already done with the material contained in the Members of the League of David and taken over here, the letters were carefully annotated, although quite often again presented in an abridged form. The second edition of 1904 is essentially enlarged, but also slightly abridged in some instances.
One year later, virtually in competition with Jansen’s edition, a two-volume documentary edition of Robert Schumann’s life by Hermann Erler was published, following slightly different principles but again prepared with utmost meticulousness. It was a description of Schumann’s letters which brought some overlaps but primarily supplements to the material and explanations which were frequently based, like those of Jansen, on accounts by contemporary witnesses. Erler’s work is indispensable to this day, the same applying to the two editions of Jansen’s work, but, unfortunately, and in spite of some promising approaches, there is still no “modern” and at least partly comprehensive edition of Schumann’s letters available, apart from the one in Russian presented by Daniel V. Zhitomirskiy (two vols., 1971, 1982). On the other hand, there are numerous widely used selected editions available, such as Der junge Schumann. Dichtungen und Briefe [The young Schumann. Poetry and letters] (published by Alfred Schumann, 1910) which, however, do not meet academic standards. Such standard is still to be checked in the critical edition of the bride’s and spouses’ correspondence between Clara and Robert Schumann presented by Eva Weissweiler, whose three volumes that appeared so far (1984, 1987, 2001) lack any academic tools, whilst its American version offers at least a register of persons. Still, this edition replaces the presentation of these source materials, mutilated in an irresponsible manner, in W. Boetticher’s publications (see below).
A representative cross-section through Schumann’s musical and critical oeuvre had appeared during Schumann’s lifetime (1854) already, encompassing about half of his earlier publications, selected, edited and printed by himself as Gesammelte Schriften über Musik und Musiker [Collected writings on music and musicians]. More editions following, slightly supplemented, in 1871 and 1875; a reprint of the first edition has been available since 1985. In 1891, F. Gustav Jansen was finally able to present a completely redesigned edition of Schumann’s writings (“Fourth edition”) which was aimed at completeness (that is, reintegration of the items discarded by Schumann) and strict chronological order and which was extensively annotated. This was the basis of Martin Kreisig’s “Fifth edition”, still relevant to this date, in which a large part of Jansen’s annotations was adopted but his principles of order were abandoned in favour of a separate presentation of the first edition and so-called “supplements”. Here again, an academic and critical edition from the point of view of modern Schumann research is urgently needed. It should be mentioned in passing that the editions presented by Jansen and Kreisig included for the first time further literary statements with a musical background mainly by the young Schumann, such as poems and school essays.
In retrospect, whilst surveying the biographical works on Schumann, one work should not be ignored which, although explicitly devoted to his life partner Clara, still represents at the same time and to a large extent a biography of Robert Schumann of remarkable quality: Berthold Litzmann’s Clara Schumann. Ein Künstlerleben nach Tagebüchern und Briefen [Clara Schumann. An artist’s life according to diaries and letters], published in three volumes between 1902 and 1908, repeatedly republished and available in reprint since 1971. Although the documentary basis, showing in the title, was restricted by preselection by the Schumann daughter Marie (who acted as “principal” for the correspondence between Schumann and Brahms, again edited by Litzmann in 1927) and the tenor of the presentation was period-specifically apologetic, the first two volumes of the work as a double biography rich in sources and literarily formed still represented an unparalleled achievement in the field of Schumann biographies so far. The fact that “the Litzmann” is not always easy to use due to its frequently unchronological presentations and missing registers (e.g., of the numerous compositions referred to), does, however, not diminish its value.
One aspect of Schumann research that has recently become of particular focus, saw at least its basis laid in the late 19th century under the aegis of Clara Schumann: This is the field of academic editing from which originated the “old” Schumann complete edition published in 1878-1883 and 1891/93, although this cannot be reproduced in detail on the basis of the representative volumes, as there is no critical report and there are only indirect testimonies, mainly in the form of letters, about editorial principles and decisions available, including even about the person of the individual volume editors, amongst whom Johannes Brahms played a key role. Clara Schumann herself, in fact, took virtually no part in the work on the complete edition the cover of which shows the well-known double portrait by Rietschel, but, still, she did publish subsequent to this edition, and as is still common today, the“practical” versions of the piano pieces (instructive edition) and songs “[according to the manuscriptsand personal records]” with which she claimed primary authority on the Schumann tradition for herself.
Litzmann’s large Clara Schumann biography, along with extracts from Clara Schumann’s diaries, also included extracts from the “marriage diaries” of 1840-1844, kept jointly by both of them, and occasionally, although quoted very sparingly, individual remarks made by Robert Schumann in the diaries. Still, it was not until far into the 20th century that these extensive and valuable life testimonies were made available to the public on a larger scale as well. The youngest Schumann daughter, Eugenie, presented some longer extracts from the marriage diaries mentioned – the German edition appeared in 2006 -, in the “Lebensbild [Biography]” of her father, published in 1931 (of whom, sinceshe was born in 1851, she could hardly have kept any personal memories). The other diaries and travel notes, already entrusted to the Schumann Archive in Zwickau by her sister Marie in 1921, the so-called Schumann household books held at Berlin State Library since 1936, as well as numerous otherautobiographical documents, were (partly) published and quoted mainly in W. Boetticher’s works (RS. Einführung in Leben und Werk [Robert Schumann. Introduction to his life and work], 1941, and RS in seinen Schriften und Briefen [Robert Schumann in his writings and letters], 1942, although with such horrendous read errors, omissions and rearrangements distorting the context, or misleading commentaries, that in individual instances they were basically unusable without time-consuming verifications. The same applies analogously to the letters and other records quoted by Boetticher. Moreover, the inventories compiled by him of, for instance, the Schumann correspondence or unpublished materials, is usually unreliable. What was temporarily considered a progress in Schumann research thus turned out eventually to be a major stumbling block. (The “Boetticher case” will still have to be discussed further.)
An academic and critical edition of notably the diaries was as indispensable as it was difficult to produce. Whilst Georg Eismann (1899–1968) rather advocated presentations in the form of extracts, aspractised in his two-volume reference work, the more and more prevailing understanding at the then Deutscher Verlag für Musik [German publishing house for music] in Leipzig was that the modern editorial form of presentation could only be complete, unabridged and academically annotated publications. In this way, under the more than difficult conditions in the former GDR (where there was censorship but functioning editorial departments with publishing houses still existed) and the pre-computer era, at least part of a new Schumann complete edition, envisaged under an all-German perspective in the 1950s, was still implemented, long before it was possible to even think about a new edition of his musical works. Eismann had prepared volume I with the youth diaries and early travel notes but then died before its publication (1971), so that Martin Schoppe (1936-1998) and the consulting editor, assisted on the part of the publishing house by Renate Bormann(-Hofmann), assumed the final editing. The work on volumes II and III proved to be lengthy, with volume II encompassing the remaining diaries including the marriage diaries and volume III the household books, but then finally appeared in reverse order under the editorship of Gerd Nauhaus (*1942) in 1982 and 1987. It is nowadays widely accepted that, with this, a solid standard for the document edition and at the same time a reliable working basis for further biographical and historical research had been created for the first time.
Coming back to W. Boetticher (1916-2002) once again, it can be pointed out that the Oscar Wilde quote mentioned would apply to him perfectly. This is not to negate his good will and great application manifested in his Schumann publications (including the three volumes of “Source studies” of the piano works, the last of which appeared posthumously, and his edition of the early Piano Quartet in C minor), but the results in qualitative terms are virtually crushing, and a reviewer who talked about an “overturned slip box”, had actually hit the nail on the head: Boetticher’s philological unreliability throughout all his works on Schumann is blatant. Moreover, in his voluminous introduction (1941 / reprinted in 2004!), a pompous aesthetic approach with unmistakably ideological influences of the Nazi era was pursued. – His active participation in the “Rosenberg Taskforce” during World War II, which he still tried to conceal in his memoirs, published posthumously, with no showing of any sense of wrongdoing, is yet a different matter; the fact also that he was able to teach into old age perfectly unhindered.
Approximately at the same time the complete diary edition was completed, the preliminary work for a new complete edition of the musical works was inititated (RSA). This was performed by Bernhard R. Appel (*1950), who, along with K. W. Niemöller and A. Mayeda, has to be regarded the actual spiritus rector of the entire comprehensive and ambitious project, of which he was able to present and thus set the high standards for the progress of the edition, the opening volumes containing the Missa sacra, Op. 147, and the Requiem, Op. 148. At this, along with the diary edition, the works of some American researchers, notably Linda Correll Roesner (Studies in Schumann manuscripts) and Jon W. Finson (RS and the Study of Orchestral Composition), became a major prerequisite and the basis forthe editorial work. There is no doubt that, after the academic processing of the key biographical sources performed by the staff of the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau, it is now the Schumann complete edition with its offices in Düsseldorf and Zwickau that determines current Schumann research to a large extent and brought about a variety of supplementary studies, without all aspects being exhausted in full. It is rather biographical and historical detailed research that now exists and expands as before, although the time of the “large overview” since the works – with very different intentions and structures – by Arnfried Edler (1982, new edition 2005), Akio Mayeda (1992), and John Daverio (1997), who tragically perished, are seemingly over for the moment.
Arnfried Edler’s book was and is the most remarkable publication in monographic Schumann research in the last third of the 20th century, and it could perhaps only be regretted that it is not a biography in a more popular style (the facts just being dealt with in a chronological table), if it did not contain such a wealth of subtle and appropriate assessments and if it did not offer such an intelligent overall pictureof the phenomenon “Schumann and his time”. (It was thus only consistent that the author also undertook to write the Schumann article for the new MGG (Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart [Music in History and the Present] [largest and most comprehensive German music encyclopaedia].)On the other hand, Akio Mayeda’s presentation, matured after a lengthy run-up, of Schumann’s symphonic work, is the most comprehensive monograph on one of the key but long underestimated creative outputs of the composer, and John Daverio’s biography, unfortunately not translated into German thus far, has had, if not the last, at least a decisive word in the field of Schumann biography, ignored itself for a long time, in which the preceding biography by the Rehbergs, held in a popular style, documentarily supported, but often contestable in the details, had represented a last major attempt.
But is it not so that even overviews of Schumann’s compositional work had long been neglected as well? Before Arnfried Edler’s book, there had been a variety of valuable detailed studies, starting with the works by Viktor Ernst Wolf (songs), Wolfgang Gertler (piano works), and Werner Schwarz (variations), up to those by Bernhard R. Appel (humoresque, album for the young), Hans Kohlhase (chamber music), Kazuko Ozawa (Chamisso songs), Ulrich Mahlert (late songs), Gerhard Dietel (late piano works), Reinhold Brinkmann (RS and Eichendorff), and many more, but summary considerations and analyses of his work were more of an abridged, popular character (e.g., Günther Spies, Reclam Music Guide [German] of Robert Schumann). This has now been lastingly remedied with the publication of an extensive compendium: Robert Schumann. Interpretationen seiner Werke[Robert Schumann. Interpretations of his works] (ed. Helmut Loos, Laaber 2005).
The first examples of such collected editions, of a more summary structure not aiming at completeness, were those of the “symposium volumes” by Gerald Abraham (1951); RS. Aus Anlaß seines 100. Todestages [Robert Schumann. On the occasion of the centenary of his death] (1956) byH.-J. Moser and Eberhard Rebling, and Alan Walker: RS. The Man and His Music (1972), to which should be added the volumes: RS. Universalgeist der Romantik [Robert Schumann. Universal spirit of Romanticism] (1982) by Julius Alf/Josef A. Kruse, and Schumann and His World (1994) by R. Larry Todd. In contrast, the collective editions by the Robert Schumann Society in Zwickau, presented since 1961 and 1966, are a more incidental sequence of individual studies, a trend that was continued, in spite of the occasional attempt at a more generalised approach, in the proceedings of academic conferences held in Zwickau, published between 1976 and 1987, in the eight volumes so far of the Schumann Studies (1988-2006), as well as in the volumes of the Düsseldorf Schumann Research (eight vols., 1984-2004). Whilst the latter also incorporated some extensive individual studies, such as those by Claudia de Vries and Olga Lossewa, such studies were published in Zwickau in the form of special volumes (four to this day). Under the same name [of Sonderbände – special volumes], two volumes of the series Musik-Konzepte [Music concepts], edited by H.-K. Metzger and R. Riehn, were published in 1981/82, incorporating both fundamental papers of the past (Abert, Gülke) and treatisesof individual detailed issues and fields undertaken by predominantly younger researchers. In this, the literary reference of Schumann’s works was broadly evaluated; aesthetic issues were a main focus. In more recent years, another omnibus volume with a wide range of subjects was published in the form of a commemorative volume for the consulting editor (Schumanniana nova, 2002). Along with the collected editions, however, a variety of numerous solid individual studies is also found, scattered in various places, not least on the subject of “Schumann and …”, that is, on relevant biographical and musical references, where those by Renate Federhofer-König (primarily on Viennese personalities, such as A. J. Becher, C. Debrois van Bruyck, etc.) are of a particularly meticulous character and which furthermore presented the Schumann biographer Wasielewski “[mirrored in his correspondence]” (1975). Recently, Wolfgang Seibold contributed a comprehensive treatise on a subject treated rather shabbily before, namely Schumann and Liszt (doctoral these, Karlsruhe, 2005).
The almost insurmountable wealth of graduate theses within Schumann research, although not always available in book form, culminated in 1984 in two very different doctoral theses by Reinhard Kapp (Studien zum Spätwerk RSs [Studies on Robert Schumann’s late works]) and Michael Struck (Die umstrittenen späten Instrumentalwerke Schumanns [Schumann’s controversial late instrumental works]), by which a breakthrough was achieved, attempted occasionally before but never pursued on a broad level, involving a new examination and assessment of Schumann’s “late” compositions which so far had almost always been overshadowed by the odium of his illness. Even if the new criteria, worked out on the basis of meticulous research into the details, for assigning them a place within his biography and for evaluating the style of these works analytically, established themselves with great hesitation only, it was after that no longer possible to return to their overall demotion as done before. This was also gradually reflected in more frequent performances and recordings of those compositions which had largely been neglected before, and the programmes of the International Robert Schumann Competitions, founded in 1956 and established in Zwickau since 1963 (2004: 14th Competition), included more and more of the relevant piano and vocal works, which can be considered a practical success of Schumann research. Due to the fundamental importance of the above two studies, they should therefore be put on a par with Edler’s book (which also includes a more differentiated examination of Schumann’s late works).
There is a connection between the issues surrounding Schumann’s late works and the literature on Schumann’s illness which started with the publications by his physician, Franz Richarz, and at times acquired labyrinthine dimensions. It is not acceptable to cover these within the subjects of Schumann research, as they normally reveal just as many shortcomings on elucidating the biographical and documentary material as they do for a fundamental understanding of an extraordinary man and artist. One exception to this is the book by the psychiatrist, music therapist and musician Peter F. Ostwald (Schumann. The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius, 1985), which, although not free from psychoanalytical and artistic knee-jerk conclusions on interpreting the biographical context, is still far more convincing in its very discreet diagnostics than any previous attempts. In contrast, the presentation by F. H. Franken (Krankheiten großer Musiker [Illnesses of great musicians]) appears somehow abridged and predisposed, whilst the doctoral thesis by C. Engel (Göttingen, 1995) offers at least a short summary of the current state of medical research. The only promising option to approach the issues of Schumann’s illness in a responsible manner will be provided by the long needed documentation of all available sources, both medical and biographical, after certain restrictions on handling the Endenich medical records, resurfaced in 1994, finally ceased to apply. This is being prepared by Bernhard R. Appel for the anniversary year in 2006 by which the connection of this special area to Schumann research is likely to be achieved.
The publication of literary works by Schumann in the editions of the Collected Writings by Jansen and Kreisig has already been briefly mentioned. G. Eismann was the first to publish in full the poems written in Moscow in 1844, which subsequently appeared in a critical edition of Diaries II. Part of Schumann’s lyric youth poetry was analysed in the (unprinted) Leipzig diploma thesis by Corina Wenke, whereas an academic examination of the main body (Allerley aus der Feder Roberts an der Mulde [All kinds of things from Robert’s quill by the river Mulde]) is included in the doctoral thesis by Aigi Heero (Schumann Studies, Special Volume 3, 2003). An edition of the largely unprinted school essays and poems from Schumann’s last two years at grammar school between 1826 and 1828 (Prose and Poetry, Schumann Studies, Special Volume 5, eds. U. Tadday/G. Nauhaus) is currently being prepared. Josef A. Kruse, Frauke M. Otto (RS als Jean-Paul-Leser [Robert Schumann as a reader of Jean Paul], 1984) and M. Schoppe dealt with this subject theoretically. In addition, an exhibition (RS und die Dichter [Robert Schumann and the poets], 1991; Catalogue by Bernhard R. Appel and Inge Hermstrüwer) and the edition of the so-called Mottosammlung [Collection of mottoes] (1998) by Leander Hotaki, who is currently preparing for publication the Schumann anthologyDichtergarten für Musik [Poets’ garden for music], basically focused on Schumann’s extensive literary knowledge and his relationships with poets.
If current Schumann research can be characterised as predominantly international (with focus on Germany and the Anglo-Saxon countries), this was not the case in the 19th and early 20th centuries and even up until after 1945. Independent biographies and documentary editions developed mainly in England and France, and later on in Italy, the Netherlands and some East-European countries,including Russia. In England, the works by J. H. Fuller-Maitland and F. Niecks have to be mentioned,supplemented by a letter edition of the former and an edition of Schumann’s writings by F. R. Ritter, whilst in France, mainly M. Brion and A. Boucourechliev produced biographies which were partly translated into German also (the monograph by Boucourechliev, published by Rowohlt in 1956, was only replaced by the one by Barbara Meier as late as 1995!), and in 1967, even a (part) edition of the marriage diaries (Journal intime, ed. Y. Hucher) was produced. In the USA, a biography was published by Robert Haven Schauffler, followed by outstanding individual studies, such as the one by L. Platinga (Schumann as Critic, 1967) or Rufus M. Hallmark (The Genesis of ‘Dichterliebe’, 19..). In Russia, the most intensive research into Schumann with ensuing publications was undertaken by the aforesaid D. Zhitomirskiy who, in spite of all political limitations, maintained regular contact with East and West German research: Along with a biography (the second scheduled edition of which he was unable to complete), he published a document volume on the Schumanns’ journey to Russia, the comprehensive letter edition mentioned earlier, and an edition of the Collected Writings, again prepared most carefully. His work is continued by Ol’ga Loseva (Olga Lossewa) who, along with a Russian-language commemorative volume (Vospominanija o Roberte Šumane, 2000), was able to present a new comprehensive documentation on that journey to Russia (Schumann-Forschungen [Schumann Research] 8, 2004). In the Netherlands, J. de Hartog published a biography rich in material, and J. H. Sikemeier some biographical supplements. In Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria, shorter biographical presentations were produced, as well as in China and Japan (Kenkichi Wakabayashi), whilst the most significant Japanese Schumann researcher, Akio Mayeda, has been a resident in Europe for a long time.
Returning once again to the editorial work on Schumann’s compositions, the four-volume selected urtext edition (Henle) of the piano works by W. Boetticher, later supplemented by further individual editions, cannot be ignored. Thanks to their excellent proofread version by Ernst Herttrich, it does not show the same serious shortcomings as, for instance, the first edition of the Piano Quartet in C minor (Heinrichshofen) which was recently subjected to scathing criticism by Joachim Draheim. It is therefore consistent that nowadays the Boetticher editions are gradually replaced by the ones by Herttrich. J. Draheim is the most diligent, productive, circumspect and resourceful Schumann editor outside the RSA (to which he incidentally contributed, together with B. R. Appel, the weighty volume of the piano works four-hands), who succeeded in making a number of first discoveries, such as the violin version of the cello concerto, enriched the range of detailed research with numerous contributions, and, moreover, presented editions of nearly all piano works (as revisions of the Clara Schumann edition), the essential chamber music and orchestral works, including the symphonies (supplemented by W. Finson’s first edition of the Symphony in D minor in its original version) to the world of musical performance. He also devoted his editorial endeavours to Clara Schumann’s compositional works (similar to Janina Klassen, and G. Nauhaus who presented several first editions), so that this is now available for the first time in near completeness since the late 19th century.
This might be a place to also briefly mention the literature on Clara Schumann over the last decades, which after Litzmann’s work had not moved much beyond a popular or belletristic field (Höcker, Quednau). Here, the Anglo-Saxon countries, later partly on the basis of the women’s movement (Pamela Susskind), had a pioneering effect: As early as 1912, Clara’s student Florence May published a book, The Girlhood of CS, 1940 saw the appearance of a comprehensive biographical presentation, which remained unknown in Europe, by John N. Burk (CS. A Romantic Biography), followed in 1983 and 1984 by the biographies by Joan Chissell (CS. A Dedicated Spirit) and Nancy B. Reich (The Artist and the Woman), of which the latter one was also widely disseminated in its German version (CS. Romantik als Schicksal). This range was further supplemented by B. Borchard’s sociologically orientated doctoral thesis (1983) and her documentary biography (1991). The first monograph on the composer Clara Schumann was presented by Janina Klassen (1990); this was followed by a series of letter and document editions, and a complete and annotated edition of her youth diaries is currently under preparation (Nancy B. Reich, G. Nauhaus). Since her anniversary (centenary) in 1996, performances and recordings of Clara Schumann’s works have also increased.
Whilst for other composers, such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and eventually Brahms also, thematic and bibliographical catalogues of their works had been available for some time or appeared more recently, preparing such catalogue for Schumann proved extremely challenging. The composer himself was perfectly aware of how desirable such publication would be and accompanied the first (part) catalogues with words and deeds, unless he stimulated these himself. The catalogue of his works was eventually published by Schuberth in Hamburg and the catalogue, constantly supplemented in various editions, retained its significance until the 20th century, as there was no equivalent to it, and was last presented in 1982 by Kurt Hofmann (who had previously published his relevant catalogue of Schumann first editions in the form of a bibliographical compendium) and Sigmar Keil. In 1966, Georg Eismann had endeavoured to produce a listing of locations of the autographs, in which subsequently, however, the reference to an important private collection of the Wiede family, first located in Zwickau-Weißenborn until 1945 and then in Bavaria, turned out to be a particular crux, as this collection ended up on the market in the 1970s, which was partly documented and partly done “underhand” (a major remainder is usually described today as “South German private property”). Although, thanks to concerted actions, a high percentage of the manuscripts up for sale could be transferred to public collections (Heinrich Heine Institute in Düsseldorf and Bonn University Library), individual items again passed into private hands where they did not necessarily remain accessible for research purposes. Irrespective of this, it can be stated that the locations of Schumann’s autographs had ever since proved to be extremely widely scattered, particularly after, and partly due to, World War II. A blatant example was the war-related removal of holdings of the former Prussian State Library in Berlin to Silesia from where they were sent to the University Library of Cracow/Poland (Biblioteka Jagiellońska); there, they remained inaccessible for decades, and today – in spite of pleasingly free research opportunities – are still the object of tough intergovernmental restitution negotiations. Another, more positive example of a “transfer” is the sale of the autograph of Schumann’s Symphony in C major (formerly in possession of publisher Breitkopf & Härtel) into European and then American private hands, and its deposit with the Pierpont Morgan Library of New York. Apart from that, even the main current locations (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Zwickau, Dresden, Vienna, Paris, London, New York, and Washington) are widely scattered, let alone the partly fragmented state of individual autographs and their equally fragmented ownership statuses.
This illustrates the extreme difficulty in creating a catalogue of works according to modern academiccriteria, on the other hand, however, thanks to the intensive research work undertaken in the run-up to the New Schumann Complete Edition, the bulk of indispensable information had been collected already. This meant a stroke of luck for the editor of the catalogue, Canadian researcher Margit L. McCorkle, who had previously been able to gain a wealth of experience from a model of a Brahms catalogue, started together with her husband, Donald McCorkle, and completed by herself. In 2003,following several years of meticulous preparatory work, in cooperation with Akio Mayeda and with the support of the Schumann Research Centre in Düsseldorf and the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau, she presented a compendium of more than 1000 pages, which was immediately integrated into the RSA. This can rightly be assessed as the most essential research achievement of the beginning of the 21st century and at the same time puts the progress of the completion on an even firmer basis.
Right before the turn of the new century, an important breakthrough in another field of Schumann research was achieved also, although it can debatably be viewed as marginal, namely iconography. The pianist and musicologist In 1999, Ernst Burger, who had already published two similar works on Chopin and Liszt by following a concept elaborated by himself, in cooperation with Gerd Nauhaus and with the support of the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau, published a Schumann life chronicle “[in images and documents]”. With immense application and the same extent of ingenuity, he traced almost all major images involving the life of Robert Schumann, including a large part of autograph scores and letters, and mounted them into his sophisticated layout together with detailed commentaries, whilst his main concern was not to produce an “illustrated book”, as presented by Georg Eismann in different editions in 1956 and 1964. What Burger strove for was rather an overarching concept that would include documentation in picture and word, for which purpose he inserted both original documents and explanatory essays (some of which were contributions by the consulting editor). It is worth pointing out that the worldwide unique image and document holdings of the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau constituted a substantial basis for this volume, published inhigh print quality, which, similar to the catalogue of works, was integrated into the Schumann Complete Edition. It should still be mentioned that the comprehensive image collection pursued by Burger actually had a precursor in the field of contemporary portraits (of which Georg Eismann had gained an first overview in 1961) in the form of an extensive exhibition held in 1994 in Düsseldorf, Bonn, Leipzig and Zwickau (catalogue: Bernhard R. Appel, Inge Hermstrüwer and Gerd Nauhaus, in cooperation with Ute Bär), where the much larger number of Clara Schumann portraits were partly included also.
(It may be allowed in this place to mention the appreciation of some of the most relevant research achievements over the past years and decades discussed in this paper, by honouring the researchers with the Robert Schumann Prize of the town of Zwickau, awarded to meritorious artists and scholars since 1964; it was awarded to Bernhard R. Appel, Ernst Burger, Joan Chissell, Linda Correll Roesner, Georg Eismann†, Joachim Draheim, Olga Lossewa, Gerd Nauhaus, Nancy B. Reich, and Martin Schoppe†.)
If the editorial work on the New Schumann Complete Edition in progress since 1992 has already been named the most substantial part of current Schumann research, such thought proves to be justified,given only the sheer volume and academic profoundness of this long-term project, sponsored by the Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities with German federal and state funds (North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony) via the Academy of Mainz. Even without appreciating the individual volumes already published in particular, it can be stated that they already represent to some degree the wealth and variety of Schumann’s oeuvre: church music with the Mass and the Requiem (B. R. Appel), symphonic works with the Symphony in E-flat major (Linda C. Roesner) and the Overture, Scherzo and Finale (Sonja Gerlach), concertos with the Piano Concerto (B. R. Appel), piano music with a volume of works for four hands (J. Draheim / B. R. Appel), instrumental chamber music with the Violin Sonatas (Ute Bär), vocal chamber music with the partsongs (Th. Synofzik), choral music with the women’s choruses (I. Knechtges-Obrecht), early compositional works with Psalm 150 (M. Wendt), and, in conjunction with this, choral symphonic music with the Motet, Op. 93 (B. Kohntz / M. Wendt). The reason why the solo piano music and the songs, usually considered the main areas of Schumann’s work, are not present in this edition yet is due to the fact that the projected beginning was all about the “late” compositions that were primarily to be processed from an interpretive and receptive point of view, but first editions are to follow soon as well. Some additional and valuable “supplements”, such as the catalogue of works and Burger’s image and text documentation, have already been mentioned; however, pure text editions, such as those concerning the literary sources of the vocal works (H. Schanze / K. Schulte) or the studies on counterpoint (H. Federhofer / G. Nauhaus) are certainly worth referring to as well. It goes without saying that a comprehensive presentation of theverbal primary and secondary output is integrated into the concept of each individual volume – so, for instance, the text part of the volumes includes virtual monographs on the respective works, together with an explicit presentation of the relevant letters by Schumann and their responses, as well as characteristic testimonies on the reception of the works. Although this partly anticipates a future Schumann letter edition – which we characterised as a major research desideratum but which, unfortunately, has not progressed beyond the preliminary work undertaken in Zwickau, particularly in respect of the correspondence with editors -, it can also serve the purpose of a sample or experimentation field for such letter edition, as far as editorial decisions are concerned.
So, even if the progress of the complete edition in its different parts and aspects will also strongly affect future Schumann research, this alone will, however, hardly be self-sufficient. The future – butwhy should not only the Schumann anniversary years in 2006 and 2010 but also the period in between and after give some fresh impetus in that direction? – should as much be expected to produce a new comprehensive Schumann biography as new document and letter editions and further detailed studies in all fields, including aesthetics, reception research which has not been particularly well developed so far, bibliography, and musical theory (recently enriched by H. Moßburger (Poetische Harmonik in der Musik RS.s [Poetic harmony in Robert Schumann’s music], 2005). And to finally mention yet another desideratum, this is the request for more high-quality facsimiles of manuscripts which by no means just satisfy aesthetic needs but (as shown by Bernhard R. Appel in his facsimile edition of the piano concerto), also open up “new paths” for the analysis of Schumann’s works.
In conclusion, I am convinced that all previous research on and in relation to Schumann lacked a centre, unless it served the purpose of ever new discussions about his music, the deepened knowledge of it, its authentic interpretation, the identification of its roots at the time it was created, as well as its effect today.
Version of 2006 (= Abridged and processed text of a publication under the same title by Gerd Nauhaus, in: Stand 2006, in: Schumann-Handbuch [Schumann Handbook], ed. Ulrich Tadday, Stuttgart/Weimar: J. B. Metzler, 2006)
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