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Robert Schumann


Op.23, No.4 - Nachtstücke

Emir Gamsız, piano


This piece is in the album:

"A Piano in Manhattan"

Read about the album: Click here

Read about the composer: Click here

Read about the pianist: Click here


In the autumn of 1838, Schumann moved to Vienna, hoping to find a publisher for his magazine, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. He wanted a new home for himself and his fiancee Clara Wieck in the Austrian capital. Schumann had to cut his visit short because he could neither find a home nor a publisher. In mid-April 1839, about ten days after he left the city, he told Clara about a quartet that he had started to compose:

I wrote you a hunch. It was in my new composition between 24-27 March. There is a passage where I keep coming back. It's like someone shouts with a heavy heart, "Oh my God!" as if he sighed. While composing I kept seeing funerals, coffins, unhappy, desperate people, and when I finished I kept turning to the idea of ​​Leichenphantasie (corpse-fantasy) for the title I had been looking for for a long time. Isn't that strange? While I was composing, I often covered it up so much that my tears didn't stop and I didn't really know why, as if there was no reason for the tears. Then Therese's letter came and stood open in front of me.

The letter was from Therese, who was Schumann's sister-in-law. She informed Schumann that his brother Eduard was seriously ill. Schumann immediately left Vienna to see his brother one last time. In his mind, he was hearing a group of trombones playing a funeral chorale. Later he learned that while he was on his way back home this was the exact moment his brother died.

Schumann eventually named his new pieces Nachtstücke (Night Music), inspired by ETA Hoffmann. He initially gave a separate title to each of the works, but these were removed in the first edition: "Trauerzug" (Funeral Procession), "Kuriose Gesellschaft" (Strange Society), "Nächtliche Gelage" (Night Realms) and "Rundgesang mit Solostimmen" ( Solo chirps).

The opening of the fourth piece of the work presents the feelings and events depicted in the other pieces are over and a moment of loneliness has begun. These opening chords are like the moment when one enters his peaceful house after eventful days and the reflex of analyzing the events comes to life. The ensuing inspirational melody begins with an increasing longing, and the rhythm of this melody provides the basis for the transition to the later emotional middle section. The closing notes of that middle section overlap with the return of the sighing first sentence of the piece with great delicacy, thereby reiterating the opening theme in the final dimensions. While the theme's soft pizzicato becomes increasingly softer, it allows the piece to close subduedly at the base of the keyboard, as if the music the poet speaks.