Reading and Misreading: Schumann's Accompaniments to Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin

Lester, Joel

The piano accompaniments Robert Schumann wrote for J. S. Bach's solo violin works can be read as a commentary by one major composer on another's works. These accompaniments misread Bach's intentions in obvious ways (e.g., that solo violin is not a viable performance vehicle), and
interpret rhythmic, harmonic, thematic/motivic, and formal structures in a manner clearly at odds with early eighteenth-century conceptions. Comparing these works with Schumann's accompaniments, eighteenth century arrangements of some movements (including some by Bach), and keeping in mind the theoretical frameworks of various eras allows us to gain
insights into how our own stylistic biases affect what we hear in music of past eras.



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Columbia University
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January 26, 2015