MARKED FOR CONSCIOUSNESS: ACCENT SYMBOLS AS AN INTERPRETIVE TOOL IN SCHUMANN’S DUO WORKS WITH PIANO
MetadataShow full item record
Robert Schumann’s duo works with piano contain a wide and varied assortment of accent markings. Most of these accents are represented by five different symbols: fp, sf, a one-note hairpin, a wedge, and circumflex. The number of these symbols, particularly in the violin sonatas, represents a considerable amount of instruction to the performer and presents an interpretive problem: with so many intensity markings bearing down on the phrases and threatening to tear apart the form, how can the performer render an organic whole? How can so many notes be accented? These details have much to tell the performer about a composition when the interpreter shifts from a quantitative approach (“How much accentuation?”) to a qualitative approach (“What is this accent doing here?”). Whereas one potential model for interpreting accent markings might scale Schumann’s five signs by intensity from the fortepiano at the lowest to the sforzando at the highest, we suggest here that accents may instead be classified by whether they articulate the boundaries of a phrase, underscore its melodic shape, highlight a syncopation, a significant harmonic event, reveal form, foreshadow a later event, or set up a central tension. In the process of such classification, the investigation of a marking may invite questions about the character of a theme, the communication of a structural framework, and what means are at the performer’s disposal for rendering a given accent marking. Such insight serves to strengthen interpretive conviction. This dissertation project’s performance component comprised three recitals: on February 24, 2017, Schumann’s Violin Sonata no. 1, Liederkreis op. 39, and Fantasiestücke op. 73 with Lydia Chernicoff (violin), Tanya Langlois (mezzo-soprano), and Emily Robinson (clarinet); on October 20, 2017, the Adagio and Allegro for Horn, Liederkreis op. 24, and Dichterliebe op. 39 with Avery Pettigrew (horn), Tanya Langlois (mezzo-soprano), and Gran Wilson (tenor); on March 10, 2018, Violin Sonatas nos. 2 and 3 with Elizabeth Adams (violin). The recitals were performed at the University of Maryland’s Gildenhorn and Ulrich Recital Halls. The recitals are available on compact discs which can be found in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).