Composer's delineation of character in Franz Schubert's, Robert Schumann's and Hugo Wolf's settings of Goethe's Mignon Lieder: A performer's guide
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis document examines the balance between music and poetry and how each composer has used his unique musical abilities to delineate character. This study specifically examines the character of Mignon from Johann Goethe's Wilhelm Meister Lehrjahre set by Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, and Hugo Wolf. This document will attempt to demonstrate that Schubert, Schumann and Wolf held different interpretations of the character of Mignon, and that a performer can best express these differences through detailed study of each composer's musical language and their handling of Goethe's poetry. The difficulty of character development in art song stems from the brevity of the genre. Character development is only possible if the singer knows what he or she wants to express and is able to communicate that interpretation to the audience. A singer needs to be able to analyze the poetry and accompanying musical setting in order to understand how to express the emotion contained in the piece. This document, therefore, explores the differing characters developed by Schubert, Schumann and Wolf in their settings of the four songs comprising Goethe's Mignon Lieder: Kennst du das Land, Heiss mich nicht reden, Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, So lasst mich scheinen. The lieder will be analyzed for their formal repetition of poetry, treatment of poetic diction, relationship of the piano and vocal parts, treatment of dynamics, register and tempo, harmonic content and style, and an analysis of possible implication of key and mood. The proposed analysis is not intended to be a theoretical comparison of the composers but will be used to enhance performer's interpretation of this lieder.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Music and Dance