Kreisleriana, Op. 16, is a composition in eight movements by Robert Schumann for solo piano, subtitled Phantasien für das Pianoforte. It was written in only four days in April 1838 and revised in 1852. The work was dedicated to Frédéric Chopin, but when a copy was sent to the Polish composer, "he commented favorably only on the design of the title page". Kreisleriana is a very dramatic work and is considered to be one of Schumann's finest compositions. Schumann himself often called it his favourite work.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)
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The work's title, and possibly the basis for a depiction of psychological music-drama, was inspired by the character of Johannes Kreisler from works of E. T. A. Hoffmann. Like the kaleidoscopic Kreisler, each number has multiple contrasting sections, resembling the imaginary musician's manic-depression, and recalling Florestan and Eusebius, the two imaginary characters of Schumann's inner vision (representing his impulsive and dreamy sides, respectively). Johannes Kreisler appears in three books by Hoffmann, most notably in the Kreisleriana section of Fantasiestücke in Callots Manier, published in 1814.
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- Äußerst bewegt (Extremely animated), D minor
- Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch (Very inwardly and not too quickly), B-flat major. This movement in ABACA form, with its lyrical main theme, includes two contrasting intermezzi. In his 1850 edition Schumann extended the first reprise of the theme by twenty measures in order to repeat it in full.
- Sehr aufgeregt (Very agitated), G minor
- Sehr langsam (Very slowly), B-flat major/D minor
- Sehr lebhaft (Very lively), G minor
- Sehr langsam (Very slowly), B-flat major
- Sehr rasch (Very fast), C minor/E-flat major
- Schnell und spielend (Fast and playful), G minor. Schumann used material from this movement in the fourth movement of his first symphony.
- Kreisleriana: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Piano Society: Kreisleriana op. 16 Much more detailed analysis and description
- Performance of Kreisleriana by Jonathan Biss from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in MP3 format
- Rosen, The Romantic Generation, p. 284
- Carey, Norman, "An Improbable Intertwining: An Analysis of Schumann's 'Kreisleriana I and II', with Recommendations for Piano Practice," Theory and Practice, Vol. 32 (2007), pp. 19–20.
- Fisk, Charles, "Performance, Analysis and Musical Imagining Part II: Schumann's 'Kreisleriana', No. 2," College Music Symposium, Vol. 37 (1997), p. 95.