Cover : Mondnacht

Mondnacht (from Liederkreis op. 39) – Schumann
Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42 – Schumann

Rebecca Woodmore (soprano)
Richard Apperley (piano)

1840 was known as Robert Schumann’s “Liederjahr,” or “the year of song” in which he wrote most of his lieder, including the cycles Leiderkreis op. 39 and Frauenliebe und leben op. 42.

Mondnacht is the fifth song in Schumann’s Leiderkries op. 39. Its poetry was taken from Joseph Eichendorff’s collection called Intermezzo. Robert Schumann wrote to his wife explaining that “The Eichendorff cycle is my most Romantic music ever, and it contains much of you.” One of the works he was probably referring to was Mondnacht. The piece is considered one of the world’s loveliest nocturnes.

Frauenliebe und leben (A Woman’s Love and Life) is taken from a cycle of poems from 1830 by Adelbert von Chamisso. They describe the course of a woman’s love for her man from her point of view, from first meeting, marriage, childbirth, finishing, in this cycle, with his death. Schumann’s choice of text was probably inspired by events in his personal life. He had been courting Clara Wieck, a successful composer and concert pianist in her own right, for many years but had failed to get her father’s permission to marry. After a lengthy legal battle, Schumann finally married Clara on 12 September 1840 – one day before Clara’s birthday which would have meant her father’s permission was no longer necessary. The cycle itself is eerily prophetic, as Clara was widowed after only 16 years of happy marriage.

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