Robert Schumann

Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) for piano, Op. 15

    Description by Blair Johnston

    The 13 pieces that constitute Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen for piano (Scenes from Childhood), Op. 15 (1838) showcase their creator's musical imagination at the peak of its poetic clarity. As a result, the Kinderszenen have long been staples of the repertoire as utterly charming yet substantial miniatures, the sort of compact keyboard essays in which Schumann's genius found full expression. Kinderszenen was one of the projects Schumann worked on during the spring of 1838 to get through a difficult period of separation from his fiancée, Clara Wieck, who was on tour as a pianist and whose father objected to the idea of her marriage to the composer. In March of that year, Schumann wrote to Clara, "I have been waiting for your letter and have in the meantime filled several books with pieces.... You once said to me that I often seemed like a child, and I suddenly got inspired and knocked off around 30 quaint little pieces.... I selected several and titled them Kinderszenen. You will enjoy them, though you will need to forget that you are a virtuoso when you play them." The Kinderszenen are a touching tribute to the eternal, universal memories and feelings of childhood from a nostalgic adult perspective; unlike a number of Schumann's collections of piano character pieces (e.g. Album for the Young, Op. 68), the Kinderszenen are not intended to be played by children. Schumann claimed that the picturesque titles attached to the pieces were added as an afterthought in order to provide subtle suggestions to the player, a model Debussy followed decades later in his Preludes. Almost all of the Kinderszenen are miniature ternary (ABA) forms. Scene No. 1, "Von fremden Ländern und Menschen" (Of Foreign Lands and People), opens with a lovely melody whose basic motivic substance, by appearing in several vague guises throughout many of the other pieces, serves as a general unifying element. The seventh Scene, "Träumerei" (Reverie), is easily the most famous piece in the set; its charming melody and quieting power have recommended it to generations of concert pianists who wish to calm audiences after a long series of rousing encores. The Kinderszenen contain many delicate musical touches; Scene No. 4, "Bittendes Kind" (Pleading Child), for example, is harmonically resolved only when an unseen force (a parent?) gives in and grant the child's wish at the beginning of No. 5, "Glückes genug" (Quite Happy). In the final piece, "Der Dichter spricht" (The Poet Speaks), Schumann removes himself just a bit from the indulgent reverie to formulate a narrator's omniscient view of the child. Quietly, gently, the many moods and feelings that Schumann touched upon over the course of this remarkable 20-minute work are lovingly recalled, and the composition concludes, contentedly, in the same key of G major in which it began.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen (Of Foreign Lands and Peoples)
    2. Curiose Geschichte (A Curious Story)
    3. Hasche-Mann (Blind Man's Buff)
    4. Bittendes Kind (Pleading Child)
    5. Glückes genug (Quite Happy)
    6. Wichtige Bebebenheit (An Important Event)
    7. Träumerei (Dreaming)
    8. Am Camin (At the Fireside)
    9. Ritter vom Steckenpferd (Knight of the Hobby-Horse)
    10. Fast zu ernst (Almost too Serious)
    11. Fürchtenmachen (Frightening)
    12. Kind im Einschlummern (Child Falling Asleep)
    13. Der Dichter spricht (The Poet Speaks)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Claudio CR 60332
    2018 Arco Diva UP 0196
    2018 Sono Luminus DSL 92218
    2017 APR (Appian) APR 7402
    2017 MDG MDG 9042042
    2017 CuGate Classics CGC 042
    2017 Centaur Records CRC 3516
    2017 BIS BIS 2238
    2017 Claudio CR 60336
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 0028947980
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797371
    2016 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 093
    2016 Albany Music Distribution TROY 1642
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875032272
    2016 Dacapo 8226090
    2016 Genuin GEN 16408
    2016 Nimbus Alliance NI 6324
    2016 Piano Classics PCLM 0104
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Albany Music Distribution / Albany Records TROY 1601/02
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290873941
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795096
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Doremi Records DHR 8030
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon B002364402
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95101BR
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794624
    2015 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8508016
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95020BR
    2015 Musica Omnia MO 0511
    2015 Sony Classical 88875057912
    2015 Hänssler Classic 980590000000
    2015 Erato 550567
    2015 Gramola GRAM 99058
    2015 Sony Classical 88843054582
    2014 LP Classics 1012
    2014 Hungaroton HCD 3275051
    2014 Oehms Classics OC 886
    2014 Piano Classics PCL 0063
    2014 Naïve V 5364
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94436
    2014 Hyperion CDA 68030
    2014 Somm SOMMCD 0134
    2014 LP Classics 1007A/B
    2013 Challenge Classics CC 72597
    2013 Entertainment Group 14143
    2013 Honens 201203201204
    2013 Soundset SR 1047
    2013 Erato 5099940960029
    2013 Opening Day Recordings ODR 7438
    2013 Accent ACC 24238
    2013 Warner Classics 678931
    2013 Sony Classical 88883767802
    2012 EMI Classics 5099967908
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    2012 Alpha / Alpha Productions ALPHA 813
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    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4790058
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    2011 EMI Classics
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    2011 Documents / Membran 232868
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    2011 Classic FM / Decca CFMFW 124
    2011 Pavane / Pavane Records ADW 7535
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    2011 Universal F480 368-1
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
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    2011 Royal Philharmonic Masterworks / Sheridan Square Records RPM 28710
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909461
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
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    2010 CAvi-music 8553215
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    2010 Sony Classical 88697719262
    2010 Ars Musici 232409
    2010 Berlin Classics 0016682
    2010 Fuga Libera 562
    2010 Hungaroton 32547
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94008
    2010 Hyperion CDA 67780
    2010 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099962852
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    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778693
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    2010 Soundset 1031
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778827
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    2009 Delphian DCD 34050
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    2009 Pentatone Classics 5186170
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    2009 Sony Music Distribution 88697575002
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    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951833
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 001190702
    2008 Blue Griffin Recording 169
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    2008 Harmonia Mundi 901989
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    2008 ABC Classics 4766479
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    2008 Erato 4697087
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    2008 Berlin Classics 0014402BC
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    2007 Doremi Records 7883
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    2006 BBC Legends / BBC Music 41712
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    2006 Capriccio Records 49483
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    1999 The Piano Library 259
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    1998 Philips 456838
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453576
    1997 Seraphim UK 69727
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 68733
    1996 Teldec 0630-13148-2
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 906100
    1996 Edicions Albert Moraleda 6134
    1996 Philips 446920
    1996 A Classical Record 39
    1996 Tring 078
    1995 Gallo 746
    1995 Summit Records 132
    1995 Intercord Klassische Diskothek 25921
    1995 BIS 144
    1995 London 440496
    1995 Music & Arts 858
    1994 Harmonia Mundi 1903006
    1994 Sony Classical 53457
    1994 Infinity Digital 57264
    1994 Naxos 550784
    1994 Naxos 550885
    1994 Valois 4699
    1994 Amon Ra 7
    1993 RCA 61414
    1993 Thorofon 2197
    1993 Dorian 90116
    1993 IMP Classics 889
    1993 Sony Classical Essential Classics 53456
    1992 Nonesuch 79202
    1992 Teldec 75863
    1992 RCA Victor 60463
    1992 Philips 4347322
    1992 Deutsche Grammophon 435045
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon 435025
    1991 RCA 60856
    1990 Chandos CHAN8814
    1988 Philips 420 871-2PSL
    1987 CBS Records 42409
    1984 Deutsche Grammophon 410653
    Classico 117
    Fidelio 8840
    Music & Arts 542
    i protagonisti 10014/15/16
    Yarlung Records 62375
    The Piano Library 301
    Vox 127
    MDG 6421086
    Rca Red Seal 84572
    Rca Red Seal 4572
    Exultate 110
    James H. McKissic 9055
    Artists 70
    All Russia
    Pearl 99049
    Disques Montaigne 8701
    Miyuki Otani
    EMI Music Distribution 66068
    Mastersound 034
    London 421290
    ABC Classics 4763852
    History 205222
    Koch Discover International 920305
    IMP Classics 1044
    Stradivarius 10014
    Manchester 112
    Ades 20319
    Lyrinx 83
    Relief 911027
    Meridian Records 84205
    Nuova Era 6903
    Centaur Records 2065
    Mastersound 34
    Deutsche Grammophon 449855
    BBC Music 4141
    Erato 45223
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 218
    Magic Talent 48008
    The Piano Library 181
    Lyrinx 083
    Solstice Records SO 055
    Erato
    Deutsche Grammophon 471312
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    Excelsior Recordings 012
    Philips Classics 446925
    Brilliant 92423
    Enterprise / Palladio 4220
    Enterprise 2019
    Manu Music Productions 1449