Schumann Piano Quartet Analysis

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Music Performance – Unit Three Outcome One and Two: Criteria One: Knowledge of Work Selected for Performance.

WORK: | Piano Quartet in Eb major Mvmt’1 Op.47 By Robert Schumann |
<Instrumentation: Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano>

Robert Alexander Schumann was a German Romantic composer and music critic who lived from 8 June 1810 to 29 July 1856. He composed this piece in 1842, also known as his ‘Chamber Music Year.’ Schumann had never written a chamber work until this year except an early piano quartet in 1829. However, in 1842, he composed the Three String Quartets Op. 41, the Piano Quintet Op.44, the Piano Quartet Op.47 and a piano trio, which became the Fantasiestuke Op. 88 later on. This Piano Quartet is also known as the
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The development section starts with his ideas from the exposition repeating. Schumann uses the compositional device, ‘sequence’, many times to build up. He moves his phrases in semitones to build to the climax while creating tension. Just before the climax of the movement –back in its original key signature, Eb major – all the strings are playing rigorous quavers with numerous sforzando then when we reach the climax, the first fortissimo can be seen. The climax is a variation of the first theme. Instead of the short quaver length chords, it has broad, majestic crotchet length chords on the violin supported by driving quavers in all other parts.
Example of when the C is replaced with a C#

Example of the use of sequence (line in the cello, which is played in canon with the violin)

The Climax

The recapitulation begins with 2nd subject of the exposition played by the cello in bar 237. After the recap of the exposition for a few bars, the whole 2nd subject is repeated but in different keys with the first time it was played. Apart from the different keys, everything else is the same until it reaches the lead in to the Sostenuto, which will lead in to the coda this time. This passage has been lengthened and ends with a C diminished chord.

The changed lead into the coda

The piu agitato section brings the whole movement to conclusion. The piece ends very diatonic after all those crazy modulations it had been doing!