Schumann’s Myrthen: an unknown manuscript source

Among the manuscripts in the collections of the Nederlands Muziek Instituut are several handwritten documents by Robert and Clara Schumann. One of them contains six songs from the Myrthen cycle op. 25 (1840) by Robert Schumann (1810-1856). It is part of a manuscript which has served as engraver's copy for the first edition, published in August 1840 by Friedrich Kistner in Leipzig. This manuscript has at some time been split up; its parts are now in Paris, Zwickau, an unknown private collection, and in the NMI in The Hague. The pages in the NMI have long been thought lost. A comparison with the other portions has now proved it to be the missing source.

The investigation has also proved that two songs in this manuscript are autographic (in Schumann's own handwriting), and four in the handwriting of Carl Brückner, a copyist employed by Schumann. The four songs in Brückner's handwriting contain corrections and additions in Schumann's own hand, and are therefore of musicological interest too.

Schumann wrote the 26 songs in the Myrthen cycle as a bridal gift for his beloved Clara Wieck. The myrtle is a symbol of marital happiness and fertility, and the flowers are traditionally used in bridal bouquets. Robert and Clara married on 12 September 1840.

This web exhibition contains a digital reproduction of the manuscript and an introduction to its history and the genesis of the composition.

Text: Karijn Dillmann
All translations: Lodewijk Muns

Schumann's Myrthen p. 11-20

Schumann's Myrthen, p. 11-20

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Last update: June 5, 2012