Schumann, Robert Frauenliebe und Leben Op. 42 for voice and string quartet



FE1074        Frauenliebe und Leben Op. 42 for voice & string quartet

                        arranged by Bill Thorp

Frauenliebe und Leben (A woman’s love and life) is a set of poems written in 1830 by Adelbert von Chamisso,an exiled French nobleman better known for his botanical work, but who became part of E.T.A. Hofmann’s literary circle. Although the poems – which follow the course of a woman falling in love, being engaged, marrying, bearing then suckling a child, and finally grieving her husband’s death – are very much of their time, with a woman seemingly defined solely by her role as wife and mother, yet they are remarkably forward looking: against convention Chamisso gave the narrator’s voice to the woman throughout and also subtly suggests that the marriage might be across the class and wealth barrier. Certainly the work was very popular with its women readers and the poet placed it at the head of his collected works. It was first set to music by Carl Loewe (1836) and then Franz Lachner (c1839) before Schumann composed his song cycle in 1840, with music of such beauty and deeply felt emotion ensuring that it has had an enduring appeal ever since. Less pianistic than many of his compositions, it has transcribed very happily for voice and string quartet, the latter’s arguably greater expressive range adding extra layers of possibility to an already potent work.

Bill Thorp

Score and parts £15