Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Scott Burnham

Committee Members

Anne Stone

Bruce Saylor

Jeff Nichols

Subject Categories

Composition | German Literature | Musicology | Music Performance | Music Theory | Poetry


Art Song, Lieder, Lied, Piano, Voice, Poetry


Some of Robert Schumann’s most notable works are his Lieder for solo voice and piano accompaniment. Schumann's Lieder are considered some of the best compositions in this genre, engendering various interpretations by performers and exciting vigorous debate among musicologists and theorists. Robert Schumann’s early music was almost entirely composed for the piano alone; it wasn’t until 1840 that he started to compose almost exclusively Lieder and song cycles inspired by his predecessors Beethoven and Schubert. This was a prolific year for Schumann compositionally, in part due to his marriage to Clara Schumann who was one of Europe’s most preeminent piano virtuosos and a budding composer herself. Schumann composed four major song cycles during this time, Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42, Liederkreis op. 24, Liederkreis op. 39 and Dichterliebe op. 48, each containing a unique narrative or series of poetic images. This study will consider four of Schumann’s song-cycles (op. 42, 24, 39 and 48), taking a “birds eye view” of their architectures with regards to key centers. Schumann arranges the tonality of each individual Lied within his cycles carefully, resulting in patterns that can be represented by scale-figures that support the poetical and narrative intricacies of the texts. Though these macro details are not heard during performance, they result in a large slowly unfolding experience, an effect which contributes to Schumann's uniquely ingenious marriage of poetry and music.