"A KIND OF COMPOSITION THAT DOES NOT YET EXIST": ROBERT SCHUMANN AND THE RISE OF THE SPOKEN BALLAD
In 1849 Robert Schumann made the surprising decision to compose a work for narrator and piano, entitled “Schön Hedwig.” He would return to this combination for two other works, “Ballade vom Haideknaben” and “Die Flüchtlinge,” op 122, nos. 1 and 2, respectively. While relatively unknown today, these three works are significant in the way in which Schumann fuses elements of two existing musical traditions: the staged melodrama and the sung ballad. Additionally, these works proved influential in the way in which they provide a model for subsequent composers working in this medium. These works display a connection to the staged melodrama in their use of the spoken text, discontinuous accompaniment, and a primitive form of leitmotif. Schumann’s works for narrator and piano also show a connection with the sung ballad in their choice of poetry, unusual harmonic shifts, and descriptive accompanimental gestures. These influences are traced through Schumann’s spoken works as well as similar works by composers such as Franz Liszt, Richard Kügele, and Richard Strauss.
School:University of Cincinnati
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:melodrama narrator schumann lizst strauss ballad
Date of Publication:01/01/2007