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Joined: May 2021
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Hi everyone, hope you're well. Very excited to share my latest video on the hidden theme in Schumann's Kinderszenen. Would love to hear what you all think - there's a lot to dispute with this one!


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Fascinating and well presented! I don't know if your theory is correct or just a case of looking for or being able to find examples to fit a theory. I do find your analysis quite convincing. Perhaps those more familiar with Schumann's music and how often he tries to connect the pieces in his other suites can better decide about your theory. I know he did this in Carnaval, but I don't remember/know if there are other known examples of Schumann using some unifying idea.

There was a famous example in chess where Reuben Fine, at one time one of the very best players in the world and later in life a psychologist, had a theory about Bobby Fischer's games in his 1972 match against Spassky. I don't remember exactly what Fine said but it was something about Fishcer and the central squares of the chessboard. When someone queried Fine about some moves Fischer made on the edge of the board, Fine's reply was that it was just the inverse of his center theory so his center theory still applied. IOW this was IMO an extreme example of someone with a theory who then tried to make everything fit that theory.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Fascinating and well presented! I don't know if your theory is correct or just a case of looking for or being able to find examples to fit a theory. I do find your analysis quite convincing. Perhaps those more familiar with Schumann's music and how often he tries to connect the pieces in his other suites can better decide about your theory. I know he did this in Carnaval, but I don't remember/know if there are other known examples of Schumann using some unifying idea.

There was a famous example in chess where Reuben Fine, at one time one of the very best players in the world and later in life a psychologist, had a theory about Bobby Fischer's games in his 1972 match against Spassky. I don't remember exactly what Fine said but it was something about Fishcer and the central squares of the chessboard. When someone queried Fine about some moves Fischer made on the edge of the board, Fine's reply was that it was just the inverse of his center theory so his center theory still applied. IOW this was IMO an extreme example of someone with a theory who then tried to make everything fit that theory.

Thanks for your comment and feedback! smile I'm honestly still undecided on this one myself...I agree that for some of the pieces (no. 9) the link is tenuous and likely coincidental, but the fact that he wrote all these pieces within a short space of time probably meant that those intervals and melodic shapes were swirling around his head during the compositional process, either consciously or not. That's right, there's Carnival, and also the Symphonic Studies Op. 13 - he was a master of thematic transformation and likely couldn't help but compose in that mindset!

Interesting about the Fine theory...one of the inspirations for this video was an analysis by Rudolph Reti who was the brother of the famous Richard Reti!

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There was a famous example in chess where Reuben Fine, at one time one of the very best players in the world and later in life a psychologist, had a theory about Bobby Fischer's games in his 1972 match against Spassky. I don't remember exactly what Fine said but it was something about Fishcer and the central squares of the chessboard. When someone queried Fine about some moves Fischer made on the edge of the board, Fine's reply was that it was just the inverse of his center theory so his center theory still applied. IOW this was IMO an extreme example of someone with a theory who then tried to make everything fit that theory.

I have seen that many times also. In fact any theory is (nearly) "always" a simplified approach to a complex situation, even in physics. Therefore there are always cases and aspects it cant explain; but once someone has created his theory, it tends to try to justify it at all cost, thus either dismissing contradictory facts or finding more or less viable adjustments to the theory.

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Well done. I suspect most of those motivic similarities are coincidental, because something like a scale of 4 steps down is hard to avoid in a melody. But for instance the "Bittendes Kind" is so obvious similar to the first movement, so that has to be intentional.

There is also the "Kreisleriana". There could be similar motivic links between all the movements there. I once wrote an analysis on it. But if it's really a conscious decision by Schumann to connect the movements, or if he just liked to use scales to build melodies, is hard to say.

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The music of romantic did use cyclical devices. Schumann in Carnaval, Papillons, DavidB or in the well known Sonata opus 11 did obviously reuse certain motives or thematic material to create unity between the pieces or within a mouvement. So there would nothing surprising to find some in this cycle as well. Schumann style does have some similarities with Beethoven in his way of using small motives.

But to me, a particular motive has to be fairly easily noticeable and audible to actually create the sense of unity. Like the ascending and descending third in the opus 106 which is constantly reused throughout the piece. An occasional descending fourth may have been intentional by Schumann but the audible effect in terms of unity is questionable. Often times the cases are more intellectual rather than musically audible.

Recognizing a rising or descending interval also depends largely upon where the beginning and ending are positionned. I often see people putting them where it seems convenient rather than rational and if positionned elsewhere, then the intervals are different.

I think the opus 15 is definitely an integrated cycle, but I see it more at the level of the musical content, the overall spirit that permeates the pieces rather any particular compositional device.


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