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Schumann: The Faces and the Masks

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Schumann: The Faces and the Masks is a groundbreaking account of a major composer whose life and works have been the subject of intense controversy ever since his attempted suicide and early death in an insane asylum. Schumann was a key figure in the Romanticism which swept Europe and America in the 19th century, inspiring writers, musicians and painters, delighting their Schumann: The Faces and the Masks is a groundbreaking account of a major composer whose life and works have been the subject of intense controversy ever since his attempted suicide and early death in an insane asylum. Schumann was a key figure in the Romanticism which swept Europe and America in the 19th century, inspiring writers, musicians and painters, delighting their enthralled audiences, and reaching to the furthest corners of the world. All the contradictions of his age enter Schumann's works, from the fantastic disguises of his carnival masquerades and his passionate love songs to his great 'Spring' and 'Rhenish' Symphonies. He was intensely original and imaginative, but he also worshipped the past-especially Shakespeare and Byron, Raphael and Michelangelo, Beethoven and Bach. He believed in political, personal and artistic freedom but struggled with the constraints of artistic form. He turned his tumultuous life into music that speaks directly to the heart, losing none of its power with the passage of time. Drawing on hitherto unpublished archive material, Chernaik sheds new light on Schumann's life and music, his sexual escapades, his fathering of an illegitimate child, the true facts behind his courtship of his wife Clara and the opposition of her monstrous father, and the ways in which the crises of his life, his dreams and fantasies, entered his music. Schumann's troubled relations with his fellow-Romantic composers Mendelssohn and Chopin are freshly explored, and the full medical diary kept at Endenich Asylum, long withheld, enables Chernaik to look again at the mystery of Schumann's final illness. Using her wide experience as a scholar of Romanticism and a novelist, Chernaik vividly brings Schumann's world and his extraordinary artistic achievement to life in all its rich complexity.


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Schumann: The Faces and the Masks is a groundbreaking account of a major composer whose life and works have been the subject of intense controversy ever since his attempted suicide and early death in an insane asylum. Schumann was a key figure in the Romanticism which swept Europe and America in the 19th century, inspiring writers, musicians and painters, delighting their Schumann: The Faces and the Masks is a groundbreaking account of a major composer whose life and works have been the subject of intense controversy ever since his attempted suicide and early death in an insane asylum. Schumann was a key figure in the Romanticism which swept Europe and America in the 19th century, inspiring writers, musicians and painters, delighting their enthralled audiences, and reaching to the furthest corners of the world. All the contradictions of his age enter Schumann's works, from the fantastic disguises of his carnival masquerades and his passionate love songs to his great 'Spring' and 'Rhenish' Symphonies. He was intensely original and imaginative, but he also worshipped the past-especially Shakespeare and Byron, Raphael and Michelangelo, Beethoven and Bach. He believed in political, personal and artistic freedom but struggled with the constraints of artistic form. He turned his tumultuous life into music that speaks directly to the heart, losing none of its power with the passage of time. Drawing on hitherto unpublished archive material, Chernaik sheds new light on Schumann's life and music, his sexual escapades, his fathering of an illegitimate child, the true facts behind his courtship of his wife Clara and the opposition of her monstrous father, and the ways in which the crises of his life, his dreams and fantasies, entered his music. Schumann's troubled relations with his fellow-Romantic composers Mendelssohn and Chopin are freshly explored, and the full medical diary kept at Endenich Asylum, long withheld, enables Chernaik to look again at the mystery of Schumann's final illness. Using her wide experience as a scholar of Romanticism and a novelist, Chernaik vividly brings Schumann's world and his extraordinary artistic achievement to life in all its rich complexity.

35 review for Schumann: The Faces and the Masks

  1. 4 out of 5

    George1st

    This absorbing and scholarly biography not only provides the factual narrative of Schumann's life but also a detailed analysis of his wok that ranged from solo piano compositions through to symphonies and even an opera. He is personified as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era for which music in particular dominated the Romantic movement in Germany. The book gives a vivid picture of the social and cultural period of the time and how he was influenced by reading the works of the grea This absorbing and scholarly biography not only provides the factual narrative of Schumann's life but also a detailed analysis of his wok that ranged from solo piano compositions through to symphonies and even an opera. He is personified as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era for which music in particular dominated the Romantic movement in Germany. The book gives a vivid picture of the social and cultural period of the time and how he was influenced by reading the works of the great German poet-philosophers Schiller and Goethe as well as reading the likes of Byron and Shelly. Musically his great loves included past masters such as Bach, Beethoven and Schubert. We learn also of his relationships with his contemporary composers including Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, Brahms and above all Mendelssohn who's music he adored. But above all the book makes clear the overriding and fundamental importance that Clara Wieck (later Schumann) had on his life, music, and musical posterity from the time they first met when she was only eleven. She spent the rest of her life tirelessly promoting and later preserving his legacy. Without Clara it is unlikely that Schumann would have received his place in musical history. I must admit that my knowledge of musical composition is negligible but despite this Judith Chernaik takes the reader by the hand as she provides a critique and analysis of his work. Against the of background of political upheaval (that would lead to the revolutions of 1848 that were essentially democratic and liberal in nature leading to the overthrow of the old ancient regimes and the creation of new independent nation states) we learn how Schumann's works reflected this with all their dreams and fantasies. The final chapters regarding Schumann's incarceration and early death in an asylum are heartbreaking and difficult to read. Clearly much research has been undertaken and includes previously unpublished archive material and a wealth of known extracts from letters and journals. There is also an extensive bibliography and a note of performances available on the internet. Certainly if nothing else this has inspired me to seek out his music and hopefully to attend a live concert at sometime in the future. If you are already an aficionado or alternatively unfamiliar with his work or you just like reading a biography of a troubled life that left behind a volume of work that still captivates the heart then this could be interest.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ana Santo

    Robert Schumann, the Romantic composer, the lover, the writer, the man, the patient, had a fascinating life that deserves to be known and analysed by the daring and curious minds. With this book Judith Chernaik successfully present us with the narrative of Schumann’s life, smoothly intertwined with analyzes of his work. We are told what the composer was dealing with at the same time we were showed his pieces and the hidden secrets within them. This is not a quick read, at least for anyone who’s m Robert Schumann, the Romantic composer, the lover, the writer, the man, the patient, had a fascinating life that deserves to be known and analysed by the daring and curious minds. With this book Judith Chernaik successfully present us with the narrative of Schumann’s life, smoothly intertwined with analyzes of his work. We are told what the composer was dealing with at the same time we were showed his pieces and the hidden secrets within them. This is not a quick read, at least for anyone who’s musical knowledge is not as good as one would like it to be, but it is an enjoyable read that take us as close to Schumann’s mind as possible. We are taken by several aspects of the composers live and no stone is left untouched. From his affairs, his health problems, the courting of his future wife and the slow degradation of his mind we are taken on a journey through Schumann’s reality without taking any sides about his character. Slowly we peek behind the genie with his several masks to contemplate the man. Brilliantly written and smartly organised, this is a biography to have.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Todd

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stian

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ron

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patty Smith

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Munro

  12. 4 out of 5

    V

  13. 5 out of 5

    Larry Di Rita

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ruggles

  15. 4 out of 5

    Clayton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  17. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  18. 4 out of 5

    Judith Saldaña

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily Keith

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason Furman

  21. 4 out of 5

    Earl Adams

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kueter

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nizzen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  26. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anne M

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jim Clemens

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karl Gant

  31. 5 out of 5

    Apoorva Dua

  32. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  33. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Clerici Schiebeck

  34. 5 out of 5

    Melon109

  35. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

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