John Daverio

in Crossing Paths

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195132960
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199867059 | DOI:

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The practice of cryptography as a viable medium for Schumann's and Brahms' aural embodiments of Clara has been ruled out. Thus, how they attempted to capture the image of Clara in tone remains unknown. The fan is presented as a symbol of the bittersweet mixture of imagination and remembrance implicit in the erotic experience. The photograph — a gateway to the “optical unconscious” is also identified as a symbol of revelation. And since the photograph and the fan alike are receptacles for deeply buried memories, this family of motifs embraces the totality of relations between the lover and the object of his or her affections. What we hear in the opening movement of Schumann's Fantasie (Op. 17) and the Adagio of Brahms's D-minor Piano Concerto — to name only two of the better-known “Clara” pieces — is an attempt to imbue the musical surface with the quality of a consciousness gripped by a deep preoccupation with a beloved object, an endeavor that lends to so many of the works of Schumann and Brahms the texture of a folded and unfolding fan. This chapter furthers explores the significance of this metaphor and its attendant motifs for an understanding of Schumann's and Brahms's embodiment of Clara in tone.

Keywords: Robert Schumann; Clara Schumann; fan; Adagio; photograph

Chapter.  11251 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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