Who was “Pauline, Countess of Abegg”, the dedicatee of the first edition? Nowadays it is known that the matter revolves around a romantic mystification of the name of Meta Abegg, a friend from Schumann’s youth, whose surname inspired Schumann to a theme on A-B-E-G-G (a-hb-e-g-g). The “rewarding and sparkling piece” – as it was described by a critic of the time – makes high technical demands, but is distinguished by a youthful freshness and ingenious virtuosity.With this work (the first, incidentally, that Schumann deemed worthy of publication), Henle has issued a good third of Schumann’s piano works in revised versions that take account of the current state of research. The thoroughly-revised musical text is complemented by an informative preface and detailed commentary.
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It is always something special for a young composer to appear before the public for the first time with a work from his own pen – and thus, of course, to confront the critics. When Robert Schumann (1810–56) resolved to take this step he was twenty-one years old and had already produced a large number of compositions. Not all of them were piano pieces, even though one might … 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
Avec cette œuvre - la première que Schumann jugea digne de publier -, un bon tiers de ses œuvres pour piano sont désormais présentes chez Henle sous forme d’éditions révisées en fonction de l’état actuel de la recherche. Une préface informative ainsi que des commentaires détaillés viennent compléter un texte entièrement revu et corrigé.
La versión crítica de Henle es, como siempre, impecable pero sin agobiar.
Schumann’s Abegg Variations has long contained a controversial moment in the text towards its conclusion (bars 196–7), so it is good to see in this edition a full explanation of the alternative.
Die Henle-Neuausgabe folgt in weiten Teilen dem bei Friedrich Kistner in Leipzig erschienenen Erstdruck und zeichnet sich durch ein gelungenes Gleichgewicht von wissenschaftlichem Urtext-Anspruch und hoher Praxistauglichkeit aus.