- Arrangements by Clara Schumann
This volume, containing Clara Schumann’s previously unpublished arrangements for piano solo of an Andante cantabile from William Sterndale Bennett’s Three Diversions for four hands, op. 17; eleven lieder by Robert Schumann; Johannes Brahms’s orchestral Serenade No. 2, op. 16; and the Menuetto I/II from his Serenade No. 1, op. 11, presents music that is apt to be unfamiliar even to specialists. It is a welcome contribution to scholarship on the creative work of one of the nineteenth century’s foremost composer-pianists, and also to the growing literature on arrangements as vehicles for musical study, performance, historical awareness, and social interaction, including editor Jonathan Kregor’s recent book, Liszt as Transcriber (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). The arrangements published here enrich our understanding of Clara Schumann as a private and public musician, and provide new insights into her involvement with music of composers close to her. Despite Kregor’s puzzling claim that Clara Schumann “left an abundance of original material and arrangements, much of which remains little known or unpublished” (p. vii), this new volume in fact presents nearly all of the extant works by Schumann that remained to be published (see the works list in Nancy B. Reich, Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman, rev. ed. [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001], 289–337). It is an important complement to the modern editions that exist for nearly all of her original works, as it documents several layers of her musical activities and thought. The arrangements presented here also give pianists the opportunity to consider music of Robert Schumann, Bennett, and Brahms from a new vantage point.
An introduction traces the history of the arrangements in the volume, and offers comparisons with other settings of the same works. Kregor explains that Clara Schumann arranged Bennett’s Andante cantabile around 1841 as a technical challenge, and probably also as a gesture of gratitude to the English composer for help in connection with her London tours. Most, and perhaps all of the lieder arrangements were created in connection with the 30 mélodies de Robert Schumann, a collection solicited by the Parisian publisher Flaxland in 1872, and published by its successors Durand & Schoenewerk about two years later. These were an effort on Clara’s part to have Robert’s music reach the public in adaptations that were artistic and also faithful to the original songs. Kregor believes that the Serenade arrangements, on the other hand, were intended for her private study and music making.
An inventory of Clara Schumann’s arrangements (pp. viii–ix) provides context for the discussion. It shows that between 1842 and 1857 she created a piano-vocal score of her husband’s opera Genoveva, contributed to the piano-vocal scores of the Scenen aus Göthe’s Faust and Das Paradies und die Peri, and to four-hand arrangements of his Symphonies 1 and 2, and late in life arranged his pedal-piano pieces opp. 56 and 58 for piano solo. Although Kregor [End Page 522] identifies the four-hand arrangement of the Piano Quintet, op. 44, as solely her work, her correspondence suggests that it was probably a reworking of an arrangement abandoned by Brahms (see Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms: Briefe aus den Jahren 1853–1896, ed. Berthold Litzmann, 2 vols. [Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1927; reprint, Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1990], 1:155; “. . . daβ Gott mir ein Talent geschenkt”: Clara Schumanns Briefe an Hermann Härtel und Richard und Helene Schöne, ed. Monica Steegmann [Zurich: Atlantis Musikbuch-Verlag, 1997], 173; and this reviewer’s Johannes Brahms: Arrangements von Werken anderer Komponisten für ein Klavier oder zwei Klaviere zu vier Händen, Johannes Brahms Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, Ser. IX, Bd. 1 [Munich: G. Henle, 2012], xxii–xxiii).
Kregor’s claim that Clara Schumann’s participation in her...