Hat’s o , gentlemen: a genius!’ Schumann wrote this in a review of Frédéric Chopin. We do not know if the admiration was mutual. Chopin, the brilliant Polish improviser, was the rst to introduce the ballad as an independent instrumental form. The connection with songs and poetry is clear. Ballads open with an introduction, followed by a theme that sounds very narrative and, following all kinds of transformations, culminates in a coda. In 18 Davidsbündlertänze, we hear Schumann’s alter-egos Florestan ( lled with unbridled passion) and Eusebius (vulnerable and dreamy) alternately taking the lead. Schumann composed the dances in 1837, shortly after he became engaged to Clara Wieck, as an ode. He also described the work as a Polterabend: referring to the party held the night before a wedding, in which dinnerware was traditionally shattered and friends exchanged jokes with the bride.
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