CHAPTER 5
Schumann's Compositions Prior to 1834

Let all that is marvelous fly neither as a bird of the day nor as one of the night, but as a butterfly at twilight.

—Jean Paul, Introduction to Aesthetics

ACCORDING TO HIS OWN RECOLLECTIONS, SCHUMANN BEGAN to compose when he was seven or eight (not long after beginning to study the piano). None of these earliest works, which he described as dances, is known to have survived. A setting for voices and orchestra of Psalm 150 followed at the age of twelve. On an elaborate, handmade title page in childish handwriting, Breitkopf & Härtel is listed as its publisher. In 1850, Schumann described it as his “oldest, completely finished work, ” but dismissed it as a juvenile attempt.1 Not long after the psalm, Schumann began work on an opera, but composed only an overture and a peasant chorus.

Schumann's first work of substance was a collection of about a dozen songs (two of them incomplete) composed in 1827 and 1828 and not published during his lifetime. Eleven of them have since appeared in print. Three have texts by Schumann: “Lied für ***” (c. 1827), “Sehnsucht” (June 1827), and “Hirtenknabe” (August 1828), the latter two using the pseudonym Ebert (not “Ekert, ” as erroneously published). In

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1
Tgb II, p. 402.

-80-

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