Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Schumann-Did External Events Affect His Musical Imagery?

In a previous blog, I had mentioned that while I was working on Schumann's wonderful Intermezzo from the "Viennese Carnival," I had taken note of his unique use of dissonance as a form of harmonic enhancement, especially the 'risky' manner of his infusion of this particular form of dissonance, which, as I had mentioned, works wonderfully well, from my view.
Realizing that my thoughts are only speculative, I thought that I might share them with you:
Is the particularized use of dissonance in this piece for piano an incipient form of imagery caused by the physical assault upon his body, which became a monster with his life ending in an institution for the insane?
It appears that Schumann may well have been infected with a tertiary, or latent form of syphilis, which fortunately did not pervade the reality of the large family he fathered in marriage. It also appears that he may have taken doses of mercury, which was at that time considered a deterrent to the ravages of syphilis, and may very well have caused at least part of the damage that resulted, after an attempt at suicide, in activating his very own request that he be admitted - after about two years, the great composer succumbed in the institution he requested admission into.
Knowing that all this may be speculative, it is, after all, a sad story indeed.
Almost as mysterious is the question: would the world know him today as the great composer he is, had he not permanently injured a finger on his way to a concert career?



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