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Thomas Hampson / Twenty Songs

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The first version of the Dichterliebe

As Thomas Hampson was preparing to perform Schumann's Dichterliebe, he expressed the wish to be able to view the original manuscript. But to his amazement ­ or shall we say, more to his disappointment ­ he discovered there was no manuscript of the Dichterliebe! In the Staatsbibliotek Berlin practically nothing could be found under this title. And so it was that we began an increasingly exciting collaboration that has really been a kind of detective hunt ­ one that to this day is not yet complete. (R. Hilmar-Voit)

1. Introduction
2. The road to publication
3. The first printing
4. A critical analysis of the Dichterliebe
5. Conclusion

Though scholars were aware of the fact, it was otherwise not generally known that four years had elapsed from the time of the completion of the song cycle to the actual publishing of the Dichterliebe ­ a period from which, thanks to Schumann's personal papers, there have surfaced a great many documents that, when taken in context with his composition, reveal a unique story.

One hundred and thirty songs were completed in Schumann's annus mirabilis 1840 ­ a considerable vocal output for a composer who had previously produced instrumental music. This entire body of songs exists in Schumann's hand, gathered in three subsequently bound Liederbücher and held in the Berlin library. In the first volume under the title Zwanzig Lieder und Gesänge aus dem Lyrischen Intermezzo im Buch der Lieder für eine Singstimme und das Pianoforte, can be found the desired Heine songs, but in a rather unexpected format! Between May 24 and June 1, 1840, Schumann had composed in succession twenty settings of poems from Heine's Lyrisches Intermezzo in what would remain an untouched sequence and key structure. What came to be altered, however, was the number of songs and their precise notation, but more about that later! On this subject the manuscript gives no information.

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