Clara And Roberts Relocation To Dusseldorf
Despite his fondness for his Chorverein in Dresden, Schumann had not made notable progress there in his professional aspirations. A salaried post at the head of a well-respected organization continued to elude him. So it was with high hopes that Clara and Robert set out for the Rhine. On September 2, 1850 they arrived in Düsseldorf, which Clara noted:
…lies in an unexpectedly friendly situation, and is even surrounded by a small mountain ridge. We were met by Hiller and the board of directors of the concerts. The latter welcomed Robert in a most friendly way with a speech. 
That evening the Liedertafel, under the direction of Julius Tausch, greeted them with song. Five days later on 7 Januaray, a concert, featuring the composers’ music, was held in their honor. The people of Düsseldorf made it their mission to convey how honored they were to welcome such distinguished guests and pulled out all the stops in a grand gesture to bring the point home— Schumann was even greeted by a trumpet fanfare when he entered the hall. These spirited Rhinelanders and their zest for life (not to mention wine and song) was a refreshing contrast to the “bloodless crew of Court-obsessed Dresdeners” whom Clara had come to think of as relics. 
Unlike Dresden, the position in Düsseldorf was salaried. As Musical Director of the city, he worked with the choral society and an orchestra made up of both professional and musicians for an annual salary of 700 thalers. With these ensembles, Schumann continued his love of music of the past masters and continued to explore the choral music of the 16th – 18th centuries. With a more able orchestra at his ready disposal, he was able to tackle bigger works than he had in Dresden providing the opportunity to conduct in performance among others, two of Bach’s Passions and select oratorios by Handel. In addition, he continued to rehearse his own music, conducting in performances his Choral ballads for soloists, choir and orchestra, opp. 116, 139, 140, and 143, the chamber oratorio Der Rose Pilgerfahrt, op. 112, and excerpts of his Missa sacra, op. 147. He also continued to compose partsongs, the Romanzen und Balladen Heft III und IV, opp. 145 and 146, started in Dresden, were completed here.
In Düsseldorf Schumann once again formed a special singing society made up of some of his better singers called the Singerkränzchen. In July 1851, the Schumanns moved to a new residence. In celebration the Schumanns hosted an open house on 6 July and invited twenty four of the choral society’s best singers for a musical evening to “break in” their new parlor room. Schumann took the opportunity to read through his recently completed Der Rose Pilgerfahrt with Clara on the piano. So he wrote to Moscheles in November 1851:
Da poco ho organizzato una società di musica da camera che eseguirà le nuove opere musicali. Recently I organized a music society that will rehearse new chamber music works. Insomma, qui si fa molto per la buona musica e io mi considero fortunato di aver trovato, venendoci, il modo di realizzare in gran parte uno dei miei desideri più vivi. In short, there is much here for good music and I consider myself lucky to have found, by coming the way of achieving the most part one of my warmest wishes.
This cheery sentiment was short-lived, however. As in Dresden, attendance began to dwindle. Familiar complaints about Schumann’s behavior behind the podium began to resurface. The new society lasted less than a year, and Schumann would cease from writing a cappella partsongs in 1851, never to return to the genre. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of his problems.
His time in Düsseldorf and the growing problems have been well-documented in the literature on both Robert and Clara from the very beginning. Later biographers like to elaborate on his difficulties with members of the association and tend to do so to point to growing disturbances in Schumann’s mental health, allowing for various diagnosis of what ultimately killed him. In my opinion this concentration on his mental health during his Düsseldorf appointment and his growing inadequacies at the podium, while clearly an issue, has done little to help reception of his later works and contributes heavily to their dismissal. While the various medical opinions are a fascinating read and certainly a valuable contribution, I am surprised how important it was. Schumann had personality quirks and health scares throughout his life which are also accounted for in the literature, but his “growing” inadequacies at the podium have often been presented as a new symptom of his final days.  One must remember that a professional post continued to elude Schumann throughout his career, and there were reasons for it. We have accounts of his ineffective instruction much earlier during his time at the Leipzig Conservatory. His limited time at the podium for premieres of his own works were not without fault, and are likely what prevented him from being appointed Mendelssohn’s successor in Leipzig. Although well-admired by many members of his dear Chorverein, there were problems with attendance, especially with the men. Many of these men were also members of the Liedertafel, and that appointment lasted merely a year before he resigned the post— suggesting there might have been more than just the composer growing tired of six-four chords. And complaints about his conducting did play a role in the dwindling attendance for the Chorverein. I don’t mean to swing the pendulum the other way and over-emphasize previous problems with his professional endeavors, but they should definitely be kept in mind when considering the Düsseldorf period. Since one can go to just about any source on Robert or Clara to find a detailed account of his struggles with the Committee, I will only provide a summary.
The first concert of the subscription series was a great success. Even though the first season ended successfully with a performance of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, however, complaints about Schumann's conducting were already surfacing. Some critics cited lack of skill, while others cited his personality. His quiet, detached demeanor was unsuccessful on the podium. He habitually lost himself in the music and neglected to interact with the musicians. There were complaints that his tempos were entirely too slow, and reminiscent of his teaching days in Leipzig, he was an inconsistent and ineffective instructor. Big errors were ignored without mention, and yet at other times, he focused on more minor issues, rehearsing it repeatedly with no suggestions for improvement. 
In the winter of 1852, the Orchestra Committee wrote a critical letter to Schumann, in regards to his handling of rehearsals and implied that he should resign. He refused to do so, and the Committee itself resigned. A new one was formed, who successfully persuaded Schumann to give up leadership of the choir to his assistant Julius Tausch, with the consolation of remaining conductor of the orchestra. Unfortunately the season continued with poor audience reception and poorly reviewed concerts, and as a result, the situation grew increasingly tense and more hostile as the year progressed.  In November of 1853, Schumann was asked to also surrender leadership of the orchestra to Tausch for the remainder of the season. Schumann refused to comply, and the Committee ultimately got what they really wanted — he decided to resign at the end of his contract, October 1, 1854. Unfortunately, due to increased health issues, he would not serve the remainder of the contract as intended. After ailments including hearing disturbances in February of 1854, he tried to take his life on February 27, 1854, by jumping off a nearby bridge into the Rhine River. Schumann was saved by two fishermen, who brought him back home. This suicide attempt was kept from Clara, who was very pregnant with her eighth child. With Clara distracted and the children with a neighbor (although at least one of the children, Marie saw things unfold at the house, as it is her tragic account that is quoted in the literature), Schumann was quietly taken away for observation. He would never return, as the children were told, he lived out his remaining years in Endenich.
In 1862, the German Choral Federation included Liedertafel in Germany, Austria, and German choirs in countries throughout Europe and America. Due to several factors beginning in the 1870s, the trend began to lose steam and diversify into something different. First, competition among the ensembles became much more fierce, both in terms of recruitment and in judged singing festivals, which took away from the friendly, social aspects of the songclubs, and as a result began to turn singers off. This competitive spirit required more complex music and as a result, more educated, disciplined organizations, a far cry from the amateur roots. On the otherhand, the competitions led to jealousy and rivalry which caused some choirs to withdraw from the competitive circuit altogether, the reason some of the more “competitive” men joined the ensemble. Nationalistic overtones was also a factor: for some ensembles it was influential and more pronounced leading some ensembles to become very nationalistic and others to withdraw from all political affiliation. This led to two distinct types of ensembles, the bourgeois group with no political affiliation focusing on “art” music and the workingman ensembles with a focus on patriotic music and use of German folk song — both manifestations had become rather distant cousins of the original, convivial songclubs of the Vörmärz era.
Schumann’s beloved Chorverein, however, lived on in Dresden. After his move to Düsseldorf, the group did not disband, but failed to meet regularly for the next five years as it did under its founder. On 5 January, 1855, the anniversary of its founding, the organization resumed regular activity under the direction of Robert Pfretzchners. For a short time, 1857 – 1858, it merged with the Dreyssigsche Singakademie. In 1873 it was christened the Robert Schumannsche Singakademie in his honor. Since Schumann’s own time, there was crossover from the Dresdener Liedertafel and his Chroverein. This contintued into the next century when K.M. Pembaur, who was appointed the court organist in Dresden in 1901, conducted the Liedertafel (beginning in 1903) as well as the Schumannsche Singakademie (1910 – 1913). In 1915, when Edwin Lindner was conducting the Philharmonische Populäre Künstlerkonzerte, he changed the name of the orchestra to the Dresdner Philharmonisches Orchester. Lindner then changed the name of the Schumannsche Singakademie to the Dresden Singakademie, combining that choir and the Dresden Männergesangsverein as the Philharmonischer Chor. After various mergings and name changes, the lineage continued, and although the original did not survive, is today acclaimed as one of the prestigious precursers to what today is known as the Dresden Singakademie. 
Schumann’ s legacy of the partsong would continue throughout Germany for another fifty years. In his last article published in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik of October 28, 1853, Robert Schumann introduced to the musical world the 20-year-old pianist and composer newcomer, Johannes Brahms as the future master: “When he waves his magic wand, there, where the powers of the orchestra and chorus will aid him, then wonderful glimpses into the secrets of the spirit-world will be revealed to us.” 
In addition to his knowledge of the partsongs of Mendelssohn and Schumann in particular, Brahms maintained a lifelong interest in folksong and in early polyphony. These influences are present in his a capella choral works. His published choral works without accompaniment include: thirteen motets (opp. 29, 27,74, 109, and 110); twenty canons and forty-six partsongs (opp. 22, 51, 42, 44, 62, 93a, and 104). Although more work has certainly been devoted to his instrumental music and songs, one can find work devoted to his choral music including analysis in the literature. Siegfried Kross wrote the oft-cited dissertation Die Chorwerke von Johannes Brahms in 1958. Twenty-five years later, Virginia Hancock produced a dissertation, followed by Hans Michael Beuerle in 1987. 
Brahms' career as a choral conductor provided the venue to explore his appreciation for early music and as well as the impetus to make his own mark in the choral repertoire. At the young age of 14, Brahms conducted a small amateur men's chorus in the village of Winsen during the summer of 1847.  He held his first regular paid position for the three autumn seasons 1857 through 1859 at the court of Detmold. His duties included conducting the court choral society, performing in concerts, along with giving piano lessons to the Princess. With the Detmolder Chor he found the first opportunity to perform some of the Renaissance and Baroque vocal music that he had begun studying and collecting several years earlier. He also began to work separately with the ladies of the Detmolder Chor. Meanwhile, during the months spent at home in Hamburg, he began to direct a women's choir, for which he also selected a number of pieces of early music. The story of Brahms and the Hamburger Frauenchor has been well-told in books by both Walter Hübbe and Sophie Drinker; both authors list the repertoire they found in the surviving partbooks copied by the singers themselves.  Although not well-organized and seen more as a social venture that provided life-long friendships, Brahms composed a significant amount of music for the organizations.
In fact, the enrichment the female choir literature found its greatest hero in Brahms. Mention Avertimento of 1860, Ave Maria, and 12 other songs before the foundation of the choir. He also composed and rehearsed accompanied choral works for the Detmold choir, the Begräbnisgesang, op. 13 and the Geistliches Lied, op. 30 for mixed voices and organ. All the remaining women choir compositions of the period were written for or inspired by the Hamburger Frauenchor: the songs for female choir, horn and harp op. 17; the first part of the Marienlieder op. 22; the 23rd psalm op. 27, the three spiritually Chöre op. 37,’ the Twelve songs and romances op. 44 for women’s voices and optional piano ad libitum; and the 13 canon op. 113. The Marienlieder combines secular folk-song and religion. He made various folk-song arrangements for the chorus. Also sacred accompanied works Ave Maria, op. 12 and Psalm 13, op. 37.
Interestingly, the Fünf Lieder for men’s chorus, op. 41 (composed between 1861 and 1865) are the only a capella works for male voices that Brahms composed  — this is surprising given it was a genre that thrived. The nationalistic works are skilled settings of Lemcke’s militaristic texts, especially the gorgeous first “Ich schwing mein Horn ins Jammertal (I Blow my Horn into the Vale of Tears)” on a text from Des Knaben Wunderhorn and the moving third “Geleit (Last Respects)”. 
After a successful first visit to Vienna in 1862, Brahms accepted an invitation to conduct the Vienna Singakademie the following season, whose founding director, Ferdinand Stegmayer, had just died. With his move to Vienna, the Hamburg Frauenchor disbanded. The predominantly historical repertoire of the Singakademie and what he deemed their inferior musicality, made the appointment short-lived – he turned down the offer for a three-year appointment. In 1872, he accepted the appointment as musical director of the Musikverein, the performing subset of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. With it he was responsible for both the Singverein and its orchestra. In his three seasons there, he successfully introduced to Vienna a number of works by Bach and Handel, along with a few smaller pieces of early music. But in 1875 he resigned, having once again become dissatisfied with the bureaucracy of such a position. He never again to the helm of an organization and for the remainder of his life opted only to guest-direct choirs and orchestras.
Brahms’ was the direct descendant of Schumann’s legacy, and Brahms’ contemporaries greatly contributed to the tradition as well. Anton Bruckner was very active in the genre, beginning in 1841, when he founded a male quartet in Kronstorf. Bruckner's earliest surviving work for male chorus, An dem Feste (wab59), was composed for the birthday of the pastor at Enns, Josef von Pessler, and first performed in his church on 19 September 1843. Following his relocation to Linz in 1855 for his appointment as town and cathedral organist, he joined the town’s prestigious liedertafel, Liedertafel Frohsinn, which was founded in 1845. In the organization’s archives, he is incorrectly listed as a first bass, but Bruckner actually sang second tenor.  On Halloween of 1856, he was elected second archivist for the season, which surely helped him attain an intimate knowledge of the club’s holdings and as a result, the liedertafel’s standard repertoire. The Frohsinn proved to be an important social outlet for Bruckner as well, who was a frequent participant in its parties and excursions. He left the organization in 1858 following some hoarseness and a chronic cough, but returned to conduct in 1860. Following the retirement of Chormeister Anton M. Storch in the autumn of1860, Bruckner was asked to conduct one selection for a program they were doing in October. They must have been pleased, as one month later he was officially given the appointment of Chormeister. He held the post only from November 1860 to September 1861, but again from 15 January 1868 until his departure for Vienna later that year. Why he resigned as director in autumn 1861 is not clear; in a letter of 3 October to his friend Rudolf Weinwurm he referenced “nasty slanders”, but did not elaborate. Contemporary reports indicate that he was an exacting choral conductor, and often hard to please, being especially demanding about dynamics.
Despite the rocky relationship, under his direction the Frohsinn achieved a number of critical successes, specifically in 1861 at the Sängerfestein Krems (29–30 June) and Nuremberg (20–22 July). And whatever the nature of the disagreement, clearly all was eventually forgiven, as Bruckner continued to write several compositions for the choir, including Inveni David, WAB 19 (1866), Vaterländisches Weinlied, WAB 91 (1866) and Vaterlandslied, WAB 92 (1866). A few months after his re-appointment in 1868, Bruckner was appointed to a teaching position at the Conservatory in Vienna. The liedertafel held a celebratory farewell dinner, where in jovial tributes they apologized for past troubles (the 1861 – 1868 hiatus). On 9 June 1869 – after he had moved to Vienna – he was was unanimously elected an honorary member of the society, which since 1960 has been known as the Linzer Singakademie. 
Bruckner's short works for the Liedertafel Frohsinn mainly consist of songs on patriotic German texts and poems about nature, and drinking-songs and sometimes feature special effects such as humming and even yodeling. Most of the pieces are unaccompanied, some have soloists, some are accompanied with wind instruments. The themes of these songs often represent those of songs typical of the time: songs about love, nature, drinking songs, patriotic songs, and folk songs. In total, Bruckner wrote thirty eight partsongs with WAB (Werkverzeichnis Anton Bruckner) and one without (Des höchsten Preis for C, TTBB) which was composed approx in 1850, but not published in Linz until 1888.
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, there was an increasing tendency for unaccompanied choral music (both sacred and secular) to be composed for performance by more highly accomplished choirs. This effected the partsong and is demonstrated in the works of those composers whose work continued into the twentieth century, like Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss, and Arnold Schoenberg.
Hugo Wolf, although best known for his contributions to the development of the lieder, also composed for the choral world. In addition to the two choral arrangements with orchestra that were originally conceived as songs— Der Feuerreiter, for mixed voice chorus, and orchestra (text by Moerike) of 1888-92 and Dem Vaterland for male chorus and orchestra (text by Reinick ) of 1890-97—he wrote four more works for chorus and orchestra: perhaps the best known, Christnacht for soprano and tenor solo, mixed chorus, and orchestra (text by von Platen) of 1886-89; the Elfenlied (text from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream) for soprano solo, frauenchor and orchestra of 1888-91; Morgen-Hymne for mixed choir and orchestra (text by Reinick), of 1896-1897für Gemischten Chor und Orchester; and Frühlingschor, from the opera Manuel Venegasfür Gemischten Chor (SAT) und Orchester, for mixed choir (SAT) and orchestra (text by Moritz Hoernes) of 1897-98. Additionally, there is the incomplete (169 bars) Die Stunden verrauschen (text by Kinkel) for soli SATB, mixed choir and orchestra dating from 1878 and the incidental music for Ibsens’ drama, Das Fest auf Solhaug for soli mezzosoprano and baritone, mixed voices and orchestra. There are also at least 18 smaller-scale choral works (14 extant complete partsongs, 1 fragment, and 3 lost works) that range from March 1876 to 1881  — these partsongs are mostly a capella, but some do have piano accompaniment. Six of the seven partsongs for male a capella voices (4 extant plus 3 lost) were composed in 1876: Drei Lieder für Männerchor a cappella, op. 13  ; the 7-bar fragment, Trinklied im Mai (text by Hölty); and the 3 lost works, Wanderers Nachtlied (text by Goethe), Die schöne Nacht (text by Goethe), and a fragment dating from 1883, Wahlspruch. The remaining eleven partsongs were written for mixed voices: his earliest surviving work, Die Stimme des Kindes (text by Lenau), op. 10. A sleeping childfor soli baritone, mixed choir, and piano of 1876; Op.13.Drei Chöre, op. 17 of 1876  ; Three songs for male choir a cappella, 1876Trust in God (Mahler).Gottvertrauen (text by Mahlmann) for mixed voices a capella of 1876; and culminatingSix sacred songs to poems by Eichendorff, 1881 with Sechs geistliche Lieder (texts by Eichendorff) for mixed voices a capella of 1881.  1. In general, the smaller-choral works are rather short, homophonic pieces using earlier, more conservative harmonic language, interspersed with chromaticism. The later pieces become more chromatic and complex, requiring a more educated choir. Although not at the same level as his songs, they are charming, and at times demonstrate the emotional power and craftsmanship of his songs. The most masterful are the Sechs geistliche Lieder, especially “Aufblick” (no. 1), “Resignation” (no. 3), and “Ergebung” (no. 5), which was performed by the Wiener Chorverein at his funeral on 23 February 1903.
Interestingly, in 1887, when Josef Schalk was appointed leader of the Wagner Verein in Vienna, he worked to champion the works of Bruckner and Wolf, including their choral works. Schalk arranged for Ferdinand Jüger, Marianne Brandt, and Ellen Forster, among others, to sing Wolf Lieder and choruses at 21 musical evenings he organized.  The two composers actually appeared together in the Philharmonic Hall in Berlin on 8 January 1894: Wolf's Elfenlied and Der Feuerreiter were programmed with Bruckner's Te deum. The performance aroused “uproarious storms of applause (in those days still seldom)… and even induced the unassuming Bruckner, with effort, to climb upon the podium and make his little bow (Buckerle) to the enraptured public.”  Late that same year on 2 December 1894, Wolf's same two works, Elfenlied and Der Feuerreiter were performed at a concert of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde under the direction of Wilhelm Gericke. Brahms attended the performance and was reported to have applauded, which resulted in a positive review by Hanslick in the Neue Freie Presse. 
for mixed choir (SAT) and orchestraRichard Strauss is known for his numerous orchestral pieces, operas and solo songs, but little attention has been given to his choral works.  There are a significant number of works for mixed voices and for male voices, both with orchestra and without; they span Strauss’ entire career. The twenty-two published, beautiful a capella choral works illustrate Strauss's characteristic harmonic writing and tone-color. According to Judith Blezzard, these same qualities that have positively flavored his orchestral music, likely repressed the widespread-acceptance of his a capella choral works. These pieces are written for large ensembles of well-educated singers; most are complex and demanding both in range and tessitura, not to mention intonation and breath control. Despite their beauty, these challenges placed the works outside the abilities of most of the singers of the choral societies. There are still a number of unaccompanied mixed choral pieces from before 1897 that remain unpublished. These earlier piece do not contain the highly-colored harmonic language, found in the later published, later works described above, demonstrating not only the progression in Strauss’ tonal language throughout the years, but a shift in the a capella partsong. The charming, accessible, partsong characteristic of the nineteenth-century song club was disappearing.
Arnold Schoenberg’s interacted with various Viennese choral societies in his early twenties. In 1895 he took over as leader of the Mödling Choral Society “Freisinn” (Mödlinger Gesangsverein »Freisinn«) and the Meidling Men's Choral Society (Dem Männergesangsverein Meidling); he also served as chorusmaster of the Stockerau Metalworkers' Singers' Union (Chormeisterstelle des Metallarbeiter-Sängerbunds Stockerau). His Ei du Lütte for mixed chorus a capella was composed in that year. In 1899 he became Director of the Men's Chorus, Beethoven, in Heiligenstadt. The following year he became Director of the city’s workers' choruses, Leitet Arbeiterchöre. In 1907 he composed Friede auf Erden, op. 13, for mixed chorus a capella, for a prize-competition. An extremely difficult sing, and at the time deemed “unsingable”, Schoenberg composed an optional supporting wind accompaniment in 1911, although today it is sung a capella as he originally intended.  In 1925 he composed Four Pieces for Mixed Chorus, op. 27—two of the texts are by Schoenberg himself, and the other two are Hans Bethge's translations of traditional Chinese poetry. On 12 November, having completed the fourth chorus-piece from op. 27, he began composing a second series, the Three Satires for Mixed Chorus, op. 28. In 1929 he completed Three Folk Songs for Mixed Chorus as well as the German Workers' Choral Society’s (Deutsche Arbeiter-Sängerbund) 1928 commission for a male chorus, Glück, which later became part (no. 4) of the Six Pieces for Male Chorus, op. 35, (all of these on his own texts) in 1930. Schoenberg continued to write for the medium after his move to the United States in 1934 and would do so right up until his death. Three Folk Songs, op. 49, for mixed chorus and Dreimal tausend Jahre, op. 50A, for mixed chorus a capella date from 1948. Israel Exists Again for mixed chorus and orchestra was composed in 1949. In 1950, Psalm 130 "De Profundis", op. 50B, for a capella mixed chorus, which received its première in Cologne on 29 January 1954, with the Cologne Radio Chorus under the direction of Bernhard Zimmermann. In September of 1850, he wrote the texts for Psalms, Prayers and Other Conversations with God, published posthumously by Rudolf Kolisch in 1956 under the title Modern Psalms. From these texts, he composed between 29 September and 2 October 1950, Modern Psalm, op. 50C, for Speaker, mixed chorus and Orchestra, which received its première under the baton of Nino Sanzogno in Cologne on 29 May 1956.
Later in the twentieth century the German partsong tradition continued with the work of composers such as Paul Hindemith, Anton Webern, Hans Pfitzner, Ernst Pepping, and Hugo Distler. With them, as is foreshadowed in the later works of Wolf, Strauss and especially Schoenberg, the partsong began to evolve into something quite different. The demands were much more technical and required increasingly larger resources. Their complex diversification is in contrast to the spontaneity of the early nineteenth–century conception of the partsong as created for amatuer song clubs, something that encapsulated the appeal of the nineteenth-century German partsong.
Secular choral singing by groups of men and/or women was a nineteenth-century phenomenon resulting from the desire of the middle class to participate in musical life and from the Romantic revival of music of earlier periods as well as their appreciation for das Volk. Choral music was able to capture these romantic ideals. The political and Biedermier sensibilities of the rising middle class in large part explain their renewed interest in music of the past and the formation of amateur musical groups, which would in turn inspire the creation of new music The a capella choir represented the musical purity of the sixteenth century, the religious purity of the music of Palestringa, and socially, it took on democratic and völkish qualities during the post-Napoleonic era.
The tradition can be traced back to the Berlin Singakademie, especially during the tenure of Zelter and the founding of his Liedertafel. This history is fascinating and mostly left as a footnote in modern literature, especially in English. Because one must refer to not only to German sources, but often German sources dating from the nineteenth century, much of this history remains unknown to musicians and students. Finding these outdated sources has certainly become easier in very recent years thanks to digitalization and growing access on the internet through the newer websites of extant German songclubs. I began this research in 2004 and had the adventure of searching through libraries and archives for Festshcrifts, as searching keywords such as “Gesangverein”, “songclub”, “liedertafel”, “frauenchor”, “German nineteenth-century partsong” on the internet was all but a dead end. In the last 2 or 3 years, however, more and more sources are now available on the internet. Various singakademies and liedertafels have now gone back to their festschrifts and archives and have begun to chronicle and outline their own history on their websites, proudly establishing their heritage or lineage to older, now-defunct organizations. The sources, especially the surviving festschrifts themselves, are fascinating. It is a snapshot into the social history and musical tastes of the German middle-class, amateur musician. Even with the advances in “google” searches and the availability of more information at the fingertips of savvy searchers, there still is a need to construct a lineage in one source in English. I hope my history has helped to do that and provide a starting place for students to learn more about these organizations and fascinating era in musical and social history.
Some of the best composers of the era wrote partsongs for these groups, a genre that was hugely popular during the nineteenth century, but today that music has been largely cast aside. Their legacy is a diverse repertory of partsongs that celebrate the spirit of Romanticism and camaraderie. Robert Schumann, like his contemporaries, recognized both the popular and artistic appeal of such organizations and composed a considerable repertoire of partsongs, continuing the lineage established by Zelter.
Today we are very familiar with his orchestral and piano works, as well as his lieder, but Schumann’s partsongs up until very recently have been a novelty, a rarity in the musicological literature. When they do appear in the literature, they have either been dismissed entirely, or discussed in minimal detail. His partsongs have a broad accessibility and can be performed by forces of various size and levels, and yet to date are still not widely-known. We find this with the German partsong in general in terms of its performance today by groups, but more so with Schumann. Certainly the fact that the music was for a very specific time in German history plays a part, but Schumann’s partsongs are also victim to their designation as “late music”, an often derogatory connotation.
Perhaps recent recordings and the upcoming remaining volumes of the New Schumann Edition’s fifth series, Chorwerke, will allow for better accessibility and hopefully inspire a growing representation in choral programs. The recent bicentennial of his birth brought Schumann back to the forefront, and likely inspired many of the recent recordings. Sarsany’s DMA dissertation and arrangement of the Jagdlieder, op. 137 is the most recent and promising sign that Schumann’s partsongs won’t remain in obscurity. My hope is that my study will also assist in this cause and sprout not only future, more in-depth investigations in the musicological and theoretical literature, but perhaps more importantly, will also convince conductors to bring back this music into their choral repertoire, allowing the masses to enjoy this charming music.
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