Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Lori E. Piitz

Gabriel T. Dobner

Mary Jean Speare


Robert Schumann's music reflects the complexity of his life and psyche. Even Schumann himself acknowledged the challenges this presented to anyone attempting to understand his music, and the Piano Sonata no. 1 in F-sharp minor, op. 11 is an example of the complex inter-relationship between Schumann's music and life. This document will have a three-fold approach to discussing Schumann's Sonata. I will outline the literary characteristics of German Romantic authors, discuss how Schumann musically interprets these characteristics while reflecting other composers, and show how these techniques help add extra-musical significance to op. 11, particularly in connection with Clara.

Robert Schumann's compositional style reveals a wide range of influences, such as Romantic authors Jean Paul Richter and E. T. A. Hoffmann and fellow composers Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Johann Sebastian Bach. While these people were influential in Schumann's life, perhaps no one was more important to Schumann than Clara Wieck. During the composition of the Sonata op. 11, Clara's father, Friederick Wieck, attempted to end their relationship by sending Clara far away. Schumann used this Sonata as a means of communicating with Clara. These elements give op. 11 an additional level of meaning.

I believe that this Sonata accurately reflects Schumann's influences, compositional style, and his life and that understanding this diverse spectrum of elements can be invaluable to anyone attempting to interpret this great work.



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