Academic journal article Notes

Analyzing Schubert/Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann/Schubert's Fingerprints: Studies in the Instrumental Works

Academic journal article Notes

Analyzing Schubert/Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann/Schubert's Fingerprints: Studies in the Instrumental Works

Article excerpt

SCHUBERTIADE Analyzing Schubert. By Suzannah Clark. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. [x, 290 p. ISBN 9780521848671. $99.] Music examples, bibliography, index.

Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann. By Kristina Muxfeldt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. [xxi, 241 p. ISBN 9780199782420. $39.95.] Music examples, illustrations, bibliography, index.

Schubert's Fingerprints: Studies in the Instrumental Works. By Susan Wollenberg. Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2011. [xviii, 317 p. ISBN 9781409421221. $124.95.] Music examples, bibliography, indexes.

The three volumes under consideration in this review collectively serve as a fitting testament to the intense, continued, and evolving fascination Schubert exerts on scholars and their potential readers.

We begin with Kristina Muxfeldt's Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven Schumann. Muxfeld brings two other composers to the table for half of her six chapters (the two Beethoven chapters together, however, take up fewer total pages than any of the three Schubert chapters). Her substantial chapter on Schumann's song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben reprints without change an essay published in 19th Century Music in 2001 followed by a fresh two-page postscript. A chapter on Schubert's two settings by the self-acknowledged homosexual poet August von Platen, which first appeared in the Journal of the American Musi - cological Society in 1996, is also reprinted here, with minor additions, a general acknowledgement at the outset that Schu - bert's "temperament and intellectual leanings have come into sharper focus for us" (p. 160) over the years, and a parenthetical note at the end of the essay noting "with pleasure" that her concluding mention of the "controversy over same-sex desire that continues to be debated even today" (then 1996), is "sounding a little quaint today" (p. 196), the second decade of the twentyfirst century.

In addition to including Beethoven and Schumann in her reception history, the more idiosyncratic Muxfeldt stands apart from the others in her decision to eschew the usual musical suspects featured in the other two studies and instead focuses on two virtually forgotten operas, Alfonso und Estrella (1822) and Der Graf von Gleichen (The Count from Gleichen) (1827) and the two known Platen songs composed in 1822, "Die Liebe hat gelogen" ("Love Has Lied") and "Du liebst mich nicht" ("You Do Not Love Me"). Despite their anomalous status, the two operas and the two songs nonetheless offer a rich opportunity to examine provocative literary and social issues. Per - haps the most telling illustration of Mux - feldt's ambitious attempt to address current issues while retaining our discipline's fundamental historiographical sensibilities, however, can be found in her examination of Schumann's song cycle, Frauenliebe und Leben, generally regarded by recent scholars regardless of gender as anti-feminist.

Muxfeldt diverges from this prevailing view. For example, in responding to Gerhard Kaiser's representative "sharp tongue-lashing" of the poems written by the cycle's poet Adelbert von Chamisso (Kaiser, Geschichte der deutschen Lyrik von Goethe bis Heine, 3 vols. [Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1988)]), Muxfeldt finds fault in Kaiser's "unapologetically modern reaction to the poems," which "makes no effort to recover what might once have appealed in them" (p. 86). She similarly finds herself at odds with Ruth Solie's pioneering feminist essay on the cycle, "Whose life? The Gendered Self in Schumann's Frauenliebe Songs," originally published in Music and Text: Critical Inquiries, edited by Steven Paul Scher (Cam - bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), nine years before the first printing of Muxfeldt's chapter. According to Muxfeldt, Solie "paints an exaggeratedly insular domestic scene that sets aside the growing importance of the professional singer" (p. 99). In short, Muxfeldt suggests that a modern feminist perspective manufactures an anachronistic or even nonexistent history and argues that "present standards can appear to be so entrenched that we cannot see how they reflect the aberrations of our own time even more deeply than those of the past" (p. …

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