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Schumann Forum 2010

Works for Piano solo I (Part 1)

by  Wolf-Dieter Seiffert

01. April

A cosmos of its own: Robert Schumann’s piano Œuvre!

I am happy to admit: I admire Schumann’s piano works and feel that they are almost second to none. To listen to this music (or also to play it on the piano – in my case rather as a dilettante) immediately elates and enthuses me. I have occupied myself with Schumann’s piano works for many years now, only to discover ever new aspects. This oeuvre puts you in open-mouthed (and open-eared) awe, like a stargazer who cannot move his eyes from the sight of the twinkling stars at night. Robert Schumann’s piano Œuvre: a musical cosmos, equalled by no other.

Lastly, this is one of the reasons I started the ”Schumann-Forum 2010“. It is my aim, dear readers, to share my passion and curiosity for Schumann’s works with you. Therefore I will offer you lots of information and entertainment during the course of the year. I am convinced anyone truly interested in classical music, and in Schumann especially, will find that Henle has much to offer, and even surprisingly new things among them.

But there is another reason why I started this kind of a “Schumann blog“ in the Schumann year 2010. I know that many classical music enthusiasts love the Fantasie in C major op. 17, that they cherish Schumann’s “Kreisleriana“ op. 16, and that they are happy when Schumann’s “Carnaval“ op. 9 is listed on a pianist’s programme. But Schumann composed so much more for piano, and most of his pieces are as good as the three I just mentioned. Sadly, too few lovers of classical music are familiar with these pieces.

Even great pianists prefer the well-worn paths – yes, these are wonderful paths! But it is exactly as the famous (Schumann) pianist András Schiff confided to me: Apart from a few often played pieces, the “major part of his piano works are largely neglected”. (You will find the complete comments from András Schiff here)


As a publisher of the major piano repertoires Henle has a good overview of what pianists the world over are interested in. The anniversary year 2010 seems to juxtapose the two great piano giants of the 19th century and provokes competition. I believe that as early as right now, in April 2010, I can foresee the outcome: Chopin will by far outdistance Schumann in regards to sales figures.

Therefore, I am going to present different piano pieces of Schumann’s during the course of the next months, and I will also introduce different recordings and compare them. I will focus on the lesser known works, but of course I will not neglect the old warhorses. And I will conduct interviews especially with pianists currently recording Schumann, or who have only recently published new Schumann recordings.

Only a few days ago I met with the wonderful Angela Hewitt. She is planning to record her second Schumann CD in the second half of this year (among others it will include the ”Davidsbündler-Tänze“ and “Forest Scenes“). The interview will be posted here as an audio podcast from 15. April, and the three first readers to respond have the chance to win an autographed CD of Angela Hewitt’s first Schumann recording.

But today, let us look at naked facts and figures that are, even without comment, massively impressive: Schumann wrote 38 complete works for piano solo (36 of which have opus numbers). The Henle catalogue has contained Schumann for decades, but we are only since this month able to offer his complete piano works in Urtext. That means that from now on the Henle catalogue boasts 38 single Schumann editions (one volume per opus; with the exception of the „Paganini Variations“ op. 3 und 10: they are combined only in one volume. On the other hand, you will find the two “best-sellers” op. 15 and 68 both seperate and combined; hence we have the total of 38 volumes). In addition, we can offer the collected piano works in a set of 6 volumes, available in the traditional blue paperback binding, or fine cloth binding. The collection is also available as a study score in six small-scale volumes. That makes a grand total of 56 volumes of music. (Schumann experts will appreciate this number.)


A few days ago we positioned all our Schumann piano editions on the stairs in our building and took a photo.

Interested in statistics? The Henle editions fill about 0,60 running metres of shelf space, laid out top to bottom you role out a 17 metre long carpet with a total weight of about 25 kg. But what will interest musicians more: the volumes contain exactly 1,216 pages of music (in Henle engraving quality), that’s about 15 hours of consistent play.

I collected the bibliographical data and play times for each opus. The information is here

SYou can take a closer look at these editions without needing to purchase them. On the left hand margin of this “Schumann-Forum 2010” click “Schumann Editions”. This will lead you to our database, in which each Schumann edition is presented individually. You will find example pages, press releases, and especially every single preface and “critical commentary”, all with a free download option.

In this manner the Henle site offers a complete and current compendium of Schumann’s piano oeuvre. And, more important, the facts are musicologically proven. So, it is not without pride that I say Henle is unique in what they have to offer special Schumann enthusiasts.

Of course, the diverse offerings on our website are also intended to awaken your interest to purchase the music from your dealer.

I am equally proud of my colleagues at Henle. They succeeded in meeting deadlines and time limits to ensure that the new Schumann Urtext editions would be printed and available in time for the Musikmesse (music fair) in Frankfurt (24.-27. March 2010). It was a remarkable feat and an exertion. We are all exhausted and very, very happy to have accomplished the impossible.

I have scheduled an interview with our deputy managing director and head of publishing, Dr. Norbert Gertsch right after the Musikmesse closes, and will record the talk. I have asked him to introduce the new Henle Schumann editions, and comment on the attention they received at the music fair. Check in again on 15. April to read the interview.


But now it is high time to allow the critical editor of all our Schumann editions to speak. Many years ago Dr. Ernst Herttrich commenced the Herculean task of completely re-editing and new-editing Schumann’s piano works for Henle, opus for opus. Allow me to express my gratitude for this truly great achievement. When we phoned Dr. Herttrich, who lives in Berlin, to announce the successful release of the editions in time for the Musikmesse, I think we heard the sound of the weight falling off his shoulder.

I talked at length with Dr. Herttrich about his work as a musicological editor and about the differences between the old and new Henle Urtext editions of Schumann. The transcript of the conversation (in German and English) is divided into two parts. You may read the first part here, the second will follow in two weeks (April, 15).


I would like to conclude my letter today with a link to the complete video recording of the „Davidsbündler-Tänze“ op. 6, played by Wilhelm Kempff (1895–1991) on 4. March, 1963 in Besancon when he was about 70 years old. The sound is o.k. (the original DVD is much better), and the superiority of Kempff’s play has its very own and unique quality:

Opus 6, I, Nr. 1-6:

Opus 6, I, Nr. 7-9, II, Nr. 1-4 [brute cut in the middle]:

Opus 6, II, Nr. 4 [continued] – Nr. 7:

Opus 6, II 8-9:

[Videos no longer available]


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