Date: May 2003
Creator: Hellner, Jean Marie
Description: Robert Schumann's D-minor Symphony endured harsh criticism during the second half of the nineteenth century because of misunderstandings regarding his compositional approach to the genre of the symphony; changes in performance practices amplified the problems, leading to charges that Schumann was an inept orchestrator. Editions published by Clara Schumann and Alfred Dörffel as well as performing editions prepared by Woldemar Bargiel and Gustav Mahler reflect ideals of the late nineteenth century that differ markedly from those Schumann advanced in his 1851 autograph and in the Symphony's first publication in 1853. An examination of the manuscript sources and the editions authorized by Schumann reveals that he imbued the Symphony with what he called a "special meaning" in the form of an implied narrative. Although Schumann provided no written account of this narrative, it is revealed in orchestrational devices, particularly orchestration, dynamics, and articulation, many of which have been either altered or suppressed by later editors. A reconsideration of these devices as they are transmitted through the authorized sources permits a rediscovery of the work's special meaning and rectifies long-standing misperceptions that have become entrenched in the general literature concerning Schumann in general and the D-minor Symphony in particular.
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