Frauenliebe und Leben
With his Davidsbündlertänze op.6, Robert Schumann created a poetic cycle of dances, portraying the ebullient, extrovert Florestan and the gentle, introverted Eusebius in 18 character pieces. “The first edition,” says András Schiff, “contains numerous extra-musical indications to ‘E’ [Eusebius] and ‘F’ [Florestan], almost as if they were stage directions.”
The two figures from Schumann’s fictional group of the Davidsbündler represent the internal world of the composer, troubled by contradictions. He had had serious difficulties with his future father-in-law Friedrich Wieck, who used every means at hand to oppose the marriage of his daughter Clara to the composer. “Your life and mine and some of your glances,” form the basis of the Kreisleriana op. 16, as Schumann wrote in a letter to Clara Wieck – a cycle that Schumann himself regarded as among his “best” compositions for piano.
The Eichendorff song cycle op. 42, written in the summer of 1840, has a thoroughly Romantic outlook and is regarded as a private testimony to the love between Robert and Clara. Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42 finally came about after Friedrich Wieck’s attempt to prevent the marriage failed in court. The wedding took place at the Gedächtniskirche in what is now Schönefeld in Leipzig. Thus Schumann composed the song cycle during what was probably the happiest time of his life.