Schumann's Opus 39 “Liederkreis”: The story of an engagement

Julia Dean McFadden, Florida International University


The objective of this thesis is twofold: (1) to confirm Robert Schumann's selection of the twelve poems by Josef von Eichendorff for Schumann's own purposes in the song cycle entitled Eichendorff Liederkreis opus 39; and (2) to establish a theme or story line in the final order of the poems. The methodology employed first a research into the biography of Josef von Eichendorff, including an understanding of his use of poetic images that represented Catholicism and nostalgia for his privileged childhood, and a contrast with Robert Schumann's biography and his very different motivations during his song year (Liederjahr) of 1840: love and his traumatic 1835–1840 engagement to Clara Wieck. The songs were then analyzed as a collection and as pairs, both musically and with regard to textual meaning. Finally, the events of the Schumann/Wieck engagement were weighed against the twelve song texts. The results of the findings confirm the likely existence of a theme for the Liederkreis, which is Robert Schumann's 4-1/2 year engagement to Clara Wieck.

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Recommended Citation

McFadden, Julia Dean, "Schumann's Opus 39 “Liederkreis”: The story of an engagement" (2003). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI1417217.