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Bach-R. Schumann
Piano Transcriptions of Bach's Works by Robert Schumann

Contents

Piano Transcriptions: Works
Piano Transcriptions: Links
Recordings of Piano Transcriptions

Robert Schumann - Short Biography

Works

Work

No.

Year

Album für die Jugend, Op.68, No. 4. Choral “Freue dich, o meine Seele”
Chorale, Freu’ dich sehr, O meine Seele, (Mvt. 6) from Cantata BWV 32, arranged for piano
Complete Score

Op. 68/4

1848

Album for the Young is linked by a complex system of thematic relationships, the most dominant source of thematic material being the J.S. Bach’s Chorale, Freu’ dich sehr, O meine Seele, (Mvt. 6) from Cantata BWV 32, Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen (Boyd, 1939) (CM: Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele)

   

   

Anyone familiar with Album for the Young will immediately recognize No. 4, Chorale, in which Schumann has used almost exactly the Bach chorale, in its original key.

   

   

Another link between J.S. Bach and R. Schumann is the interest in writing music based on the musical letters in names. Schumann made clear reference to the BACH motif (B flat,A,C,B) in previous works, for example the second symphony (Daverio, 319). It is interesting that three of the letters in Bach’s name, ACH, are also shared by Schumann’s name. There are clearly a number of reasons why Schumann might have chosen a theme by Bach as his principal melodic structure in this work, in which melodies are inverted and played backwards, and altered in the ways in which Bach was so notoriously brilliant.

Some of the permutations of the chorale theme in Album for the Young are shown below. If we break the first two phrases of the chorale theme into fragments we can see that we have: an upward scale passage of 2-3 notes (depending on where one stops and starts) and a downward scale passage of 5-6 notes. The second phrase has an upward scale passage of 3-4 notes and a downward passage of 3-4 notes.

Pieces 1 to 5, the original gift to Marie on her 7th birthday (and the only pieces in the work simple enough for most seven year olds to play) are all based on the Bach chorale theme:

   

Humming Song, no 3, is an inversion of the chorale theme, with a falling scale passage of three notes and an upward passage of five notes.

   

   

Soldier’s March, no 2, transposes the chorale theme up a third, then skips up a further third to allow the falling scale passage to end on the tonic:

   

   

Melodie, no. 1, reverses the order of the scale passages in Chorale, and consists of a falling passage of five notes followed by an ascending passage of three notes:

   

   

Little Piece, no 5, combines an upward passage of four notes with the upward passage of three notes:

   

   

In Poor Orphan Child, no. 6, Schumann transposes the inversion of the Chorale melodie (as in Humming Song, no. 3) into the key of a minor:

   

   

In Little Study, no. 14, the form of the theme used in Soldier’s March, no. 2, is used again in the same key:

   

   

In Vintage Time, no. 33, the Soldier’s March form of the theme is used again, this time in E major:

   

   

Finally, in Figured Chorale, no. 42, the original theme of the work, the Bach chorale stated in no. 4, Part I, is replayed, this time highly decorated and in F major.

   

For Schumann to write a set of foretellings for young children, based on his own experiences, would have seemed, not an egotistical act, but rather an expression of the most logical place to seek for truths, within his own individual soul. And here we can now be reminded of the Bach chorale which formed the thematic basis of much of Album for the Young:Freu’dich sehr, O meine Seele. Schumann, in choosing this particular chorale, has given us yet another insight into the deeper purposes of this work, for the title of the Bach chorale translates as You are very joyful, O my soul.

   

Source: “Is Schumann’s Album for the Young really for the young?” by Elizabeth Green

   

Bibliography:
Boyd, Charles N., Albert Riemenschneider. (1939). Chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach, Book 1. New York: G. Schirmer.
Daverio, John. (1997). Robert Schumann. New York: Oxford University Press.

   
     

Links

Title

Description

Author/Webmaster

Is Schumann’s Album for the Young really for the young?

Article

Elizabeth Green

Album für die Jugend, Op.68 (Schumann, Robert)

Scores

IMSLP

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Prepared by Aryeh Oron (December 2013)

Robert Schumann: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

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Last update: ýDecember 11, 2013 ý17:36:49