Robert Schumann Criticism - Essay

Marcel Brion (essay date 1956)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Brion, Marcel. “Chapter 7.” In Schumann and the Romantic Age, translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury, pp. 148-67. New York: Macmillan, 1956.

[In the following excerpt, Brion defines Schumann's criticism as a work of art.]

It was partly to do justice to the great men of the past, partly to give a helping hand to young musicians scorned by the critics and unnoticed by the public, that Schumann decided to found a musical review. The idea was born in a cloud of pipe and cigar smoke at the Stammtisch of the Kaffeebaum, where he and his friends were accustomed to meet. This silent meditative man, who liked to sink into himself to listen to the music that...

(The entire section is 5783 words.)

Leon B. Plantinga (essay date 1967)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Plantinga, Leon B. “Introduction,” “Schumann's Style of Criticism,” and “Schumann's Aesthetics of Music.” In Schumann as Critic, pp. ix-xiii; 59-78; 111-34. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

[In the following excerpts, Plantinga examines several facets of Schumann's criticism, with particular emphasis on his style and musical philosophy.]

At the age of twenty, Robert Schumann, thoroughly bored with his law studies at the University of Heidelberg, decided to devote himself to music. This was in the autumn of 1830, and during the next year he plunged wholeheartedly into not one, but three kinds of musical activities: piano playing, composing,...

(The entire section is 21562 words.)

Leon Botstein (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Botstein, Leon. “History, Rhetoric, and the Self: Robert Schumann and Music-Making in German-Speaking Europe, 1800-1860.” In Schumann and His World, edited by R. Larry Todd, pp. 3-46. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Botstein places Schumann's literary and musical work in the context of nineteenth-century German culture and thought.]


“I often wonder whether my cultural ideal is a new one, i.e. contemporary, or whether it derives from Schumann's time.” This thought, jotted down by Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1929, identifies how the work of Robert...

(The entire section is 17828 words.)

John Daverio (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Daverio, John. “Music Criticism in a New Key.” Robert Schumann: Herald of a “New Poetic Age,” pp. 105-30. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

[In the following excerpt, Daverio demonstrates how Schumann's criticism reflects his passionate desire to unite music and language.]


In March 1833 Schumann arrived in Leipzig after a four-month stay in Zwickau and nearby Schneeberg, the home of his brother Carl and sister-in-law Rosalie. As noted in the previous chapter, the first movement of his G-minor Symphony was performed at both locations: in Zwickau on 18 November 1832 and in Schneeberg in...

(The entire section is 14233 words.)

Eric Frederick Jensen (essay date 2001)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jensen, Eric Frederick. “Schumann and Literature.” In Schumann, pp. 39-57. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

[In the following excerpt, Jensen explains how Schumann's literary erudition informed his critical style.]

The greatest pleasure in life is that of reading, while we are young.

—Hazlitt, “Whether Genius is Conscious of Its Powers”

For much of the nineteenth century, the interest of composers not just in music but in all the arts was truly extraordinary. An interrelationship among the arts was commonly recognized. “The well-educated musician,” wrote...

(The entire section is 8351 words.)