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The Floral Poetics of Schumann's Blumenstück , Op. 19

The Floral Poetics of Schumann's Blumenstück , Op. 19 Abstract Robert Schumann's Blumenstück , op. 19, a short piano piece dating from 1839, is generally not included among the composer's more poetically inspired or formally adventurous pieces. Thanks in part to Schumann's own disparaging remarks about the piece, Blumenstück , like the stylistically similar Arabeske , op. 18, has been viewed as a fairly straightforward effort to appeal to amateur consumers—especially women consumers—of domestic piano music. Rather than recuperate Schumann's piece through a revelation of its structural achievements, this article links the piece's mixed aesthetic status to the similar standing of flowers (and the genre of flower painting to which Schumann's title alludes) in early-nineteenth-century German culture. Emblematic of women and the expression of conventional sentiments, flowers nonetheless constituted a remarkably evocative symbol in Romantic literature. Sentimental and Romantic discourses of the flower converged in the trope of Blumensprache (the language of flowers), an idea that found expression in both popular manuals cataloguing the meanings of flowers and the more esoteric environments of Schumann's criticism, E. T. A. Hoffmann's tales, and Heinrich Heine's poetry. In each of these venues, flowers served as imaginary conduits joining mundane and transcendent realms. Drawing on the work of Friedrich Kittler, I argue that Schumann's Blumenstück , with its conflicting imperatives of pleasure and instruction, congenial melody and motivic intertwining, conflates aesthetic and reception-based categories in a related manner and, as a result, undermines traditional means of generic classification. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png 19th-Century Music University of California Press

The Floral Poetics of Schumann's Blumenstück , Op. 19

19th-Century Music , Volume 36 (1) – Jul 1, 2012

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
© 2012 by the Regents of the University of California
ISSN
0148-2076
eISSN
1533-8606
DOI
10.1525/ncm.2012.36.1.024
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Robert Schumann's Blumenstück , op. 19, a short piano piece dating from 1839, is generally not included among the composer's more poetically inspired or formally adventurous pieces. Thanks in part to Schumann's own disparaging remarks about the piece, Blumenstück , like the stylistically similar Arabeske , op. 18, has been viewed as a fairly straightforward effort to appeal to amateur consumers—especially women consumers—of domestic piano music. Rather than recuperate Schumann's piece through a revelation of its structural achievements, this article links the piece's mixed aesthetic status to the similar standing of flowers (and the genre of flower painting to which Schumann's title alludes) in early-nineteenth-century German culture. Emblematic of women and the expression of conventional sentiments, flowers nonetheless constituted a remarkably evocative symbol in Romantic literature. Sentimental and Romantic discourses of the flower converged in the trope of Blumensprache (the language of flowers), an idea that found expression in both popular manuals cataloguing the meanings of flowers and the more esoteric environments of Schumann's criticism, E. T. A. Hoffmann's tales, and Heinrich Heine's poetry. In each of these venues, flowers served as imaginary conduits joining mundane and transcendent realms. Drawing on the work of Friedrich Kittler, I argue that Schumann's Blumenstück , with its conflicting imperatives of pleasure and instruction, congenial melody and motivic intertwining, conflates aesthetic and reception-based categories in a related manner and, as a result, undermines traditional means of generic classification.

Journal

19th-Century MusicUniversity of California Press

Published: Jul 1, 2012

Keywords: Robert Schumann Friedrich Kittler Blumenstück op. 19 Blumensprache flowers gender

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