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Hyperion Records

CDS44441/50 - Schumann: The Complete Songs
Lithograph of Robert Schumann in 1847 by Eduard Kaiser (1820-1895)
© Robert-Schumann-Haus Zwickau
CDS44441/50

Recording details: Various dates
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Various engineers
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 734 minutes 44 seconds

'The best Schumann reissue so far is Hyperion's box of complete songs … this is a landmark issue no serious collector should be without' (The Mail on Sunday)

The Complete Songs
Graham Johnson (piano) 10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Zwickau & Leipzig (1827, 1828 & 1840)
CD1
Leipzig (February–May 1840)
CD2
Leipzig (May–July 1840)
CD3
Leipzig (July–October 1840)
CD4
Leipzig (October–December 1840)
CD5
Leipzig & Dresden (January 1841–March 1849)
CD6
Dresden & Kreischa (April–May 1849)
CD7
Kreischa & Dresden (June–December 1849)
CD8
Dresden (December 1849–August 1850)
CD9
Düsseldorf (January 1851–September 1853)
CD10

Schumann’s songs are among the greatest musical achievements of the nineteeth century, and this is the perfect release with which to mark the composer’s 200th birthday.

This marvellous collection comprises Schumann’s complete songs, presented for the first time in their chronological sequence of composition, with complete song texts, and a chronology of Schumann’s life and songs by Graham Johnson.

Johnson is, of course, also the curator and unifying musical force of this series, accompanying his hand-picked selection of singers – some of the greatest lieder performers of today, and indeed of tomorrow – with utter sensitivity.


Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
1810 8 June At 9.30 pm Robert, fifth and last child of August Schumann (1773–1826)—author, book dealer and publisher—and his wife Christiane, née Schnabel (1767–1836), is born in Zwickau, Saxony, on the top floor of the house at the corner of the Marktplatz. This substantial and roomy dwelling doubles as home and business premises, and is rented by the Schumanns between 1807 and 1817.

14 June Robert is baptized in the house of his birth; since being rebuilt in 1956 this has become the Robert Schumann Museum in Zwickau.

1813 (aged 3) Robert goes to live with his godmother, Frau Ruppius. She looks after him for two and a half years before he returns to his parental home in 1816.

1816 (aged 6) Robert begins his schooling in Zwickau, and receives his first music theory lessons from August Vollert.

1817 (aged 7) Robert receives his first piano lessons from Johann Gottfried Kuntsch (1775–1855). Owing to the success of the family business it is now possible for August Schumann to buy a house of his own: the family moves into a new dwelling in the Amtgasse, the home of the young Robert for eleven years, where his talents in both literature and music develop side by side. This dwelling is razed to the ground in March 1945.

1818 (aged 8) Robert develops his talent at the piano, particularly as an improviser able to portray the characteristics of friends in musical terms—Chopin in Carnaval is prefigured in these youthful musical games. He begins Greek and French lessons. In August he goes to Karlsbad with his mother, where he encounters for the first time Ignaz Moscheles (1794–1870). This great pianist becomes his idol and Robert decides to emulate him—he intensifies his piano studies. He falls in love for the first time—with Emilie Lorenz who ten years later will marry his older brother Julius and become his sister-in-law.

1819 (aged 9) During a visit to Leipzig, Robert hears his first opera (Die Zauberflöte) and is overcome with enthusiasm. He begins to compose poetry and writes and produces a small play with school friends.

1820 (aged 10) Robert enters the Zwickau Lyzeum (later renamed Gymnasium) where he is far ahead of his contemporaries in German studies as well as in Latin and Greek. It is probably in this year that he visits Dresden for the first time. He falls in love with Ida Stölzel, daughter of a Zwickau landlord. He later records that his love of music at this age and his longing to be a pianist were almost in the order of a sickness.

1821 (aged 11) Robert’s musical life begins to intensify with the establishment of evening performances (‘Abendunterhaltungen’) at the Zwickau Lyzeum—between 1821 and 1828 he appears at these as pianist, poet and speaker. With a school friend—Friedrich August Pilzing—he plays a huge amount of music arranged for piano duet: Weber, Hummel, Czerny, symphonies by Haydn and Mozart, and Beethoven’s Eroica arranged for four hands.

1822 (aged 12) Robert composes his first musical works—small pieces with grand titles: Psalm 150 for solo voices, piano and orchestra, and an Ouvertüre with chorus. In order to perform these works he establishes a school orchestra and takes over its direction. A new piano from the Viennese firm of Streicher is purchased for the Schumann household—in his will of 1826 August Schumann leaves this instrument to his youngest son Robert.

1823 (aged 13) Schumann, writing much later, dates his passion for works of the lyric stage to the years between 1823 and 1827. He broadens his knowledge of opera with Weber’s Freischütz performed in the Zwickau Gewandhaus. Works by Mozart and Rossini are also heard, and other pieces are studied in piano scores. From this year dates an anthology of verses—his own and others’—entitled Leaves and Flowers from the Golden Meadow. Gathered and assembled by Robert Schumann, writing under the name of Skülander. This collection, the first of many such home-made anthologies, is a kind of preparation for the writing of a projected tragedy to be entitled Der Geist. He also reads an eighteenth-century musicological treatise which begins to shape his ideas on tonality—this is by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart (the poet of Schubert’s Die Forelle) and is entitled Ideen zu einer Ästhetik der Tonkunst.

1824 (aged 14) The young Schumann begins to make a name for himself as a pianist and conductor of his own small school orchestra. At this time literary activities exceed the musical. Robert is permitted to contribute to some of the many articles for encyclopaedias and yearbooks written by his father. Such figures as Lord Byron and Hölderlin, hardly admired by right-wing opinion, are already the subjects of the young composer’s fervent admiration.

1825 (aged 15) To his later regret Robert stops taking piano lessons—as it happens, both Chopin and Liszt dispense with teachers from the age of fifteen—and he begins to study the cello and flute. He gathers together a volume of the poetry he has written between 1822 and 1825 (Allerley aus der Feder Roberts an der Mulde) and he pens a short autobiography as well as numerous translations from the Greek and Latin classics. He show early signs of his left-of-centre sympathies by founding a secret student organization; he also establishes a literary society at his school which will meet over thirty times. Robert’s eighteen-year-old sister, Emilie, depressive by nature, commits suicide. August Schumann asks Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) to take Robert as a pupil—this never happens because of Weber’s English visit and his death in London in 1826.

1826 (aged 16) In the home of the well-to-do music-lover Karl Erdmann Carus, managing director of a chemical factory in Zwickau, Schumann hears quartets by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. In March and April Robert falls in love with two girls from his home town: Nanni Petsch and, shortly afterwards, Liddy Hempel. These relationships arouse passionate feelings, but the friendships remain platonic (there is no reciprocation from Liddy). He is eventually disillusioned and disappointed in both girls.

10 August Death of August Schumann—his demise has been hastened by his devastated reaction to the tragic death of his daughter, Robert’s sister.

The young composer goes on a walking tour encompassing Gera, Jena, Weimar (where there is no attempt to visit Goethe), Gotha, Schnepfenthal and the Haydn town of Eisenstadt. He embarks on writing a novel entitled Selene.

1827 (aged 17) 16 January After attending a ball where Liddy Hempel touches him twice on the hand, Robert writes an enthusiastic 128-line poem. </