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Zwölf Gedichte aus 'Liebesfrühling', Op 37
4-11 & 16 January 1841; for Nos 2, 4 and 11 see Clara Schumann's Op 12 of the same title
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No 01: Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint
Track 12 on CDJ33104 [2'15] Archive Service
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No 03: O ihr Herren
Track 14 on CDJ33104 [0'58] Archive Service
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No 05: Ich hab in mich gesogen
Track 16 on CDJ33104 [2'05] Archive Service
Track 5 on CDS44441/50 CD6 [2'05] 10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
No 06: Liebste, was kann denn uns scheiden?
Track 17 on CDJ33104 [2'32] Archive Service
Track 6 on CDS44441/50 CD6 [2'32] 10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
No 07: Schön ist das Fest des Lenzes
Track 18 on CDJ33104 [0'52] Archive Service
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No 08: Flügel! Flügel! um zu fliegen
Track 19 on CDJ33104 [3'17] Archive Service
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No 09: Rose, Meer und Sonne
Track 20 on CDJ33104 [4'51] Archive Service
Track 9 on CDS44441/50 CD6 [4'51] 10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
No 10: O Sonn', o Meer, o Rose
Track 21 on CDJ33104 [3'36] Archive Service
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No 12: So wahr die Sonne scheinet

Zwölf Gedichte aus 'Liebesfrühling', Op 37
Robert Schumann had long taken the music of his beloved Clara as a starting-point for some of his own works – for example the Impromptus sur une Romance de Clara Wieck Op 5, as well as passages in the Davidsbündlertänze Op 6, and the variations on Clara’s Andantino in the Concerto sans orchestre Op 14. An officially shared work between husband and wife, however, was a new departure. This may well have taken as its justification a collaboration between two talented members of another supremely musical family. Three of Felix Mendelssohn’s Op 8 songs (published in 1828 but composed rather earlier), and three of the Op 9 (published in 1830) are, in fact, by his sister Fanny. This was still something of a secret in 1841, but the Mendelssohns and Schumanns were on intimate terms in Leipzig, and the latter may well have been told in confidence of this shared project where the works of Fanny had come into the public ken thanks to the reputation of her famous brother. Of course Clara was a celebrity in her own right as a pianist. It is to Schumann’s credit that he never envisaged making a secret of a shared project between him and his wife; on the contrary he seems to have been proud of her work and anxious to celebrate their relationship with some sign of mutual musical endeavour.

He had long encouraged Clara to turn to the composition of lieder. On 13 March 1840 he had written to his fiancée: ‘Why not write a song! Once you’ve begun you just can’t stop. It is simply too tempting.’. In reply Clara was less optimistic: ‘I can’t compose. It makes me very sad at times, but it is really impossible. I have no talent for it. But don’t think that that is because of laziness. A song, you say. No, I simply cannot. In order to write a song, to comprehend a text completely, this requires intelligence.’ Robert knew his bride-to-be was very intelligent, and he did not give up. A month after their marriage (in October 1840) he encouraged her to set a text by Robert Burns, but to no avail. It was only in December 1840 that she decided to surprise him with a Christmas present of three songs, one setting of Burns (perhaps the same one suggested earlier in the year) and two by Heine (these songs will be heard in a later volume of this series). Clara’s own estimation of these works (‘naturally of no value … only very feeble attempts …’) was not shared by her enthusiastic husband: ‘I was delighted by the three songs, in which she gushes like a girl and is much more compositionally precise than before. We now have the clever idea of interspersing them with some of mine and having them printed.’

As it turned out, these Christmas songs were not included in the shared venture. Instead Schumann decided to return to a favourite source, Ruckert’s Liebesfrühling, to find texts for a completely new cycle. He was so enthused with this idea that he had completed nine songs within a week (Monday 4th to Monday 11th January 1841). In the marriage diaries (where it was usual for the pair to post messages, sometimes concerning issues where it was judged more tactful not to confront each other face-to-face) he urged Clara to so the same – ‘Now Clara should also compose a few from the Liebesfrühling. Oh, do it, Klärchen!’ In the same entry however, he writes of Clara being in pain as a result of her first pregnancy (‘Clara has had to suffer a great deal – from pain, which she gladly tolerates on my account’). She was clearly unable to write the songs at this time, but Schumann went ahead with his plans. In April he wrote to the publisher Kistner informing him that ‘my wife has written some very interesting songs, which have inspired me to compose others.’ He thus broached the idea of issuing these works in a single book Clara had begun to work on any Rückert settings.

It was only in June 1841 that Clara settled down to work, probably with the intention of making a birthday present for her husband. Her initial reaction was typically negative: ‘Composing just won’t work – I sometimes just want to hit myself on my stupid head! … I sat around composing quite a bit this week, and produced four Rückert poems for my beloved Robert. I just hope that they please him a little.’

Please him they did. Clara’s entry in the marriage diary tells us that the ‘very delighted’ Robert treated the songs ‘with great respect’ and that he wanted to ‘publish them with some of his own which makes me very happy.’ Only one of the four songs composed in that June – Die gute Nacht, die ich dir sage – was not included in the cycle; it concludes this disc, however, following Robert Schumann’s choral setting of the same poem. The finished cycle was not published by Kistner as Schumann had first envisaged, but by Breitkopf und Härtel in two books. He took care however that the work was engraved in time to surprise his wife on her 22nd birthday, 13 September 1841. The work was given two separate opus numbers: it was Robert’s Op 37, and Clara’s Op 12.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2000

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