CHAPTER 12
Schumann's Dramatic Works

For centuries it was as if music and literature were divided by a wall…. When they came into contact, they resembled Pyramus and Thisbe, peering at and touching one another in secret through the cracks and crevices of the stones piled up between them. Schumann was at home in both lands …

—Franz Liszt, “Robert Schumann” (1855)

SCHUMANN'S INTEREST IN AND LOVE OF LITERATURE SEEMED naturally to lead to thoughts of opera. For much of his adult life, he was involved with one. Not long after beginning study with Wieck in 1830, he considered the possibility of Hamlet as an opera, but got no farther than creating sketches for an overture. The next year found him reading E. T. A. Hoffmann, and he was enthusiastic about the operatic possibilities of two tales—“The Mines at Falun” and “Doge and Dogaressa. ” But, for the remainder of the decade, as Schumann focused first on his career as a piano virtuoso and then as a composer of music for piano, little attention was devoted to opera. Then, in February 1840—at a time when he had turned away from the piano and was beginning to write songs—once again opera began to interest him. He returned to the subject of Hoffmann's “Doge and Dogaressa. ” To Clara, he described Hoffmann's story as “noble and natural, ” and, with the aid of the writer Julius Becker, for the next few months he worked on

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