First United Presbyterian Church

Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen

Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen, or Fairy Tales, was written in 1853. It will be performed on March 6, 2023, at the Light on the Hill Chamber Music Concert at First United Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We hope to see you there!

Märchenerzählungen is playful and lively. Schumann didn’t mention any particular fairy tales he had in mind while composing this piece. However, his father was a writer and a bookseller, and Schumann loved literature, including fairy tales. His wife, Clara, wrote in her diary, “Today Robert completed 4 pieces for piano, clarinet, and viola and was very happy about it. He thinks that this compilation will appear highly romantic.”

A piece in four parts

There are four parts to Märchenerzählungen. In German, they bear these names:

  • “Lebhaft, nicht zu schnell”
  • “Lebhaft und sehr markiert”,
  • “Ruhiges Tempo, mit zartem Ausdruck”
  • “Lebhaft, sehr markiert”

We might expect — if we don’t know German — that these phrases would mean things like “Into the woods” or “In the castle of the princess.” In fact, these are the translations into English of the section headings:

  • “Lively, not too fast”
  • “Lively and very marked”
  • “Slow tempo, with tender expression”
  • “Lively, very marked”

Schumann thus allows us to interpret the music in terms of our own understanding, memories, and imagination of fairy tales.

The players

The Fairy Tales will be performed by Nophachai Cholthitchanta, clarinet, Timothy McDuff, viola, and Hyun Kim, piano. All three are faculty members at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Dr. Kim is also the organist at FUPC.

The concert is free and open to the public.

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