Schumann Piano Quintet in Es Op.44

Schumann Piano Quintet in E flat major Op.44

Before Schumann wrote this piano quintet, Schubert and Hummel composed piano quintets for Violin, Viola, Cello, Contrabass and Piano. Those quintets would be written for salon music. After Schumann’s success on this new Piano Quintet by string quartet + piano, many composers found the high potential of this new style. Major works by this style were written by Brahms, Dvorak, Franck, and Faure.



When Robert and Clara Schumann visited Bremen and Ortenburg in February, 1842 for their concert tour. Throughout the tour it was not unbearable for Robert that Clara was always highly applauded but he was not so much. He was uncomfortable with the situation and decided to part with Clara and returned Leipzig alone on March 12. Then he had fallen into a deep depression until Clara came back on April 24. Also there was a rumor that Wiek Schumann, Clara’s father had been trying to separate them.During this time he had drowned in beer and champagne, but he also studied ardently counterpoints and string quartets of the classic era.

When Clara came back home, Robert became very happy and he started the year of chamber music. He composed 3 string quartets, Piano Quintet Op.44, and Piano Quartet in 1942. Piano Quintet Op.44 was worked from September 23, 1842 and completed on October 12.


About the work:

The core of this Piano Quintet is a funeral march in the 2nd movement. I guess the march would be conceived in March or April 1842 when he was deeply depressed. Whose funeral, Robert himself or Clara? Anyway,he apparently had a special thoughts on this funeral march, and developed this theme into the great piano quintet later.
The combination of string quartet and piano seems natural for Robert as he finished 3 string quartets right before the quintet.

The second movement theme is gloomy and depressed, however, the Quintet as a whole has quite positive and brilliant since this was written when he felt nasty problems had all gone. You will find Schumann's characters of Florestan and Eusebius. For instance, 1st Theme of 1st movement is of Florestan and seems to express the joy of recovery when they meet again, and 2nd theme is Eusebius using the phrase derived from the main theme of 2nd movement. 


Below is some samples  how Schumann develops the whole 4 movements from the main theme of 2nd movement.
Second theme of the first movement, Trio I and Trio II of the third movement and first theme of 4th movement are developed from the theme.

Main Theme (Funeral March ,2nd Mov)


First Movement:
2nd Theme as below is deformation of the last part of the main theme g-c-d-e is tranposed to B-dur


Second Movement:
Agitato [92]  is a variation of Main thema.


Third Movement:
Trio 1
Main theme( below left) c-f-g-c , first c is tranposed up by an octave and whole phrase is transposed in ges-dur.


Trio 2
Main theme( below upper) c-f-g-c , g is tranposed down by an octave and whole phrase is transposed in ces-dur and deformed by ornaments.Schumann put accent marks on key notes.


4th Movement:
Main theme( below left) c-f-as-g-c , first c is tranposed up by octave and whole phrase is transposed in Es-dur.


There are many more in the work but I will leave them for raders to find.


Detail Analysis

1st Movement; Allegro brillante

Theme 1;

Measures Description
1 9 1st Theme (T1)
9 16 Passage (P1) M1
16 26 securing 1st Theme (T1)
27 50 transition by P1
51 57 Passage to 2nd Theme (P2)
57 73 2nd Theme (T2)
73 79 P2
79 95 2nd Theme (T2)
95 98 P2
99 108 P3
109 116 Codetta by T1
116 128 Passage to open developing section (P4)
128 133 Development Section 1 (T1+M2)
134 167 Part I  by M2 and F
167 175 Development Section 2 (T1+M2)
175 207  
207 215 1st Theme (T1)
215 223 Passage (P1) M1
224 232 securing 1st Theme (T1)
233 256 transition by P1
247 263 Passage to 2nd Theme (P2)
263 279 2nd Theme (T2)
279 285 P2
286 301 2nd Theme (T2)
301 305 P2
305 314 P3
314 323 Codetta by T1
324 338 Coda

2nd Movement  In modo d'una Marcia, Un poco largamente
This movement has a clear form as | A-B-A| C |A-B-A|
The below passage plays important role in 1st ,2nd and 3rd movements.


Measures Description
1 2 Introduction
3 10 Thema 1 (4+4)
11 25 Thema 1 (4+4+4+4)
30 45 Episode 1
46 61 Episode 1
62 84 Thema 1
85 91 Transition
 ( C)    
92 103 Variation on Theme 1
110 132 Thema 1
133 148 Episode 1
149 164 Episode 1
165 185 Thema 1
186 193 Coda






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