Here is an essential guide to the musical works of Robert Schumann, along with an engrossing account of his tumultuous life. Many, if not most, major composers improve over the course of their careers, but the reverse is unfortunately the case with Schumann, whose talent was seriously compromised in later years by a series of physical and mental illnesses. Throughout Schumann: A Listener s Guide, Victor Lederer provides unflinching critiques of the weaknesses that plagued Schumann s style, alongside his triumphs. Lederer explores the full spectrum of the master composer s oeuvre from his popular early music and lieder, or songs, to his works for chamber ensembles composed in 1842, to his four beloved, if flawed, symphonies. Lederer also takes in Schumann s dramatic works, particularly Genoveva, his only opera, and Incidental Music to Byron s Manfred, an underappreciated musical score. Schumann: A Listener s Guide comes with a CD with two of the master s most daring imaginative flights, the Davidsbundlertanze for piano and Dichterliebe A Poet s Love one of the greatest song cycles and works for voice. Both are discussed in detail in the text.
VICTOR LEDERER (New York City) is the author of seven other books in the Unlocking the Masters series, including Chopin: A Listener s Guide to the Master of the Piano; Debussy: The Quiet Revolutionary; Verdi: The Operas and Choral Works; and Ravel: A Listener s Guide.