The composition cost him his sleep. In October 1842, when Schumann had finished his piano quintet in a short period of time, he was physically and emotionally drained. The work in no way reflects this, quite the contrary. “Full of strength and freshness” said Clara Schumann of the new composition, as well as “extremely brilliant and effective”. Even Richard Wagner added his voice to the great wave of admiration. Thus op. 44 soon became one of Schumann’s most successful compositions, which today is still a jewel in chamber music literature. If the quartet reminds one of a piano concerto with orchestra in string quartet format at times, this is explained by the fact that it was intended for Clara’s repertoire. The work was also dedicated to this brilliant pianist.
- Piano Quintet E flat major op. 44
Schumann composed the Piano Quintet, op. 44, in 1842. This was his so-called “year of chamber music,” it being his standard practice to concentrate on a particular genre for a certain length of time. Thus, the years until 1839 were devoted entirely to piano pieces, while the year thereafter, 1840, was his “year of song,” during which he composed almost nothing but … more
About the composer
Connected with his oeuvre is the term he coined, Poetic Music, with which he strove for a fusion of literature and music, a paradigm particularly seen in his lyric piano pieces prior to 1839. Thereafter he devoted himself to other genres (song, symphony, chamber music, among others).
|1810||Born in Zwickau on June 8, the son of a bookdealer.|
|from 1828||Studies law in Leipzig, piano with Friedrich Wieck. Decision to pursue a career in music.|
|1830–39||He exclusively composes piano works, mostly cycles, including “Papillons,” Op. 2 (1829–32); “Carnaval,” Op 9 (1834/35); “Davidsbündlertänze,” Op. 6 (1837); “Kinderszenen” (“Scenes from Childhood”), Op. 15 (1837/38); “Kreisleriana,” Op. 16 (1838); “Noveletten,” Op. 21 (1838).|
|1832||A paralysis of a finger in his right hand makes a career as a pianist impossible. Founding in 1833 of the fantasy brotherhood the “Davidsbund” (“League of David”).|
|1835–44||Editor of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal of Music).|
|1840||Marriage to Clara Wieck; 138 songs, including the Eichendorff Liederkreis, Op. 39; the song cycle “Dichterliebe,” Op. 48|
|1841||Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major (“Spring” Symphony), Op. 38, and Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120.|
|1842||Three string quartets, Op. 41; further chamber music.|
|1843||Teacher of composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. Oratorio “Paradise and the Peri,” Op. 50.|
|1845||He settles in Dresden. Journey to Russia.|
|1845||Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61.|
|1850||City music director in Düsseldorf. Premiere in Leipzig of his opera “Genoveva,” Op. 81. Symphony in E-flat major (“Rhenish”), Op. 97; Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129.|
|1853||Beginning of his friendship with Brahms. Completion of the Scenes from Faust. Violin Concerto in D minor for Joseph Joachim.|
|1854||Suicide attempt and admission to the psychiatric institution in Endenich, near Bonn.|
|1856||Death in Endenich on July 29.|
About the authors
Schumann’s pair of E flat masterpieces from his “chamber music year“ of 1842 are here presented in excellent new scholarly editions by Ulrich Leisinger (quartet) and Ernst Herttrich (quintet) with suggested piano fingerings by Michael Schneidt and Klaus Schilde.
Die von Ernst Herttrich und Ulrich Leisinger herausgegebene Neuausgabe beider Werke (Klavierquartett und Klavierquintett) schließt eine von vielen Musikern empfundene Lücke – eine moderne Urtextausgabe nach aktuellem Stand der Forschung fehlte nämlich bislang. Die Henle-Ausgabe zeichnet sich durch hervorragende Lesbarkeit, durchdachte Wendestellen und angenehme „Griffigkeit“ aus.