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Studies in Music with Text$
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David Lewin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182088.001.0001

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R. Schumann’s Anfangs wollt’ ich

R. Schumann’s Anfangs wollt’ ich

A Study in Phrygian and Modern Minor

(p.161) Chapter Eight R. Schumann’s Anfangs wollt’ ich
Studies in Music with Text

David Lewin

Oxford University Press

Heinrich Heine is said to have written the poem about a pair of tight shoes. Robert Schumann appears to have set the song very much in earnest, taking the text at face value. The chorale-like texturing immerses Schumann's music in an ambience of devotion and supplication, suggesting that the heavy burden was borne only after intense prayer. This observation makes the last verse of text in the song even more puzzling than it already is in the poem: if the burden was eventually borne through prayer, why not just say so? Perhaps the persona made some very private and difficult sacrifice or penance to ensure the efficacy of the prayer. This chapter focuses on the cadence structure of the music and on the issue of its modality. Specifically, it examines the extent to which we hear the final cadence on a Phrygian tonic. The chapter argues that the interplay of d minor with Phrygian a allegorizes central dramatic features in Schumann's reading of the text.

Keywords:   Heinrich Heine, Robert Schumann, poem, song, text, d minor, cadence, Phrygian tonic, music, modality

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