Path to Romanticism: German and French music from the 19th century
Robert Schumann’s song cycle about poems by Justinus Kerner, (one of his main works in the Lied style), is like a kaleidoscope of extremely romantic matters, beset by basic human contradictions. These songs talk about the young enthusiasm for travelling and discovering a fascinating world, which is full of promises but also disillusionment and nostalgia which the wayfarer encounters along the way; they sing about passionate love as well as impossible love, heading in one direction, and they celebrate Nature’s beauty and kindness which accompanies and consoles Man on this journey. Its most intense expression finds life in the Romantic Man’s most intimate emotional impulses.
The second part introduces French romantic song which, under the influence of Gounod and Massenet’s opera aesthetic on the one hand, and the levity of ballroom music on the other, was developed throughout the 19th century, until it became a typically French style of chamber music, a mélodie, which Fauré and Hahn best represent.