Schumann, Raphael, Faust
So powerful is our image of Schumann as the most literary of composers that we easily overlook his interest in the visual arts and his association with contemporary painters such as Eduard Bendemann. This chapter explores his abiding love of the work of Raphael, in particular his claim that “the educated musician can profit as much from studying a Raphael Madonna as can a painter from a Mozart symphony. And what is more: … to the painter, the poem becomes a picture, [while] the musician transposes the painting into tones.” Raphael's “Sistine” Madonna, which Schumann would long have known and would have been able to view in Dresden during his time there, is suggested as a strong influence on the structure and detail of his Szenen aus Goethes Faust WoO 3, and especially on Dr. Marianus's “Hier ist die Aussicht frei” (part III, no. 5). The musical analysis takes as its starting point a substantial commentary on the painting by Schumann's friend Carl Gustav Carus, who made a strong link between the “Sistine” Madonna and the concluding “Chorus mysticus” from Goethe's Faust II.
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