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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gendered voices: the Liebesfrühling Lieder of Robert and Clara Schumann Boyd, Melinda Jean


In 1841, Robert and Clara Schumann collaborated on a setting of twelve poems from Friedrich Ruckert's Liebesfhihling. Although these songs were popular in the composers' lifetime, today they are sadly neglected. Rufus Hallmark's 1990 article, "The Riickert Lieder of Robert and Clara Schumann" (19th-century Music, 14:1), draws on manuscript and diary sources, examining the cycle from various points of view, among which gender issues are touched upon from the perspective of performance practice. Taking Hallmark's article as a starting point, this thesis employs more recent feminist and cultural theories to scrutinize the Lieder, as well as the creative partnership, from a gender perspective. Chapter One concentrates on the influence of Western cultural attitudes and the role of gender in the genesis of the Lieder, followed by a detailed inquiry into the choice of texts, and the chronology of the subsequent compositions, confirming the extent of the collaboration. Chapter Two provides a close reading of the gender ambiguity inherent in the imagery and ideological content of Ruckert's poems. Chapter Three proceeds to the musical settings, examining form, harmonic language, melody, rhythm and motivic usage, and how these musical materials interact with the gender ambiguity in the texts. Chapter Four draws on the analysis of the previous two chapters in an attempt to read the Liebesfhihling Lieder as a "song cycle." The thesis concludes with an evaluation of the songs and the creative partnership, laying the foundation for a renewed interest in this unique collection of Lieder.

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