Exploring Schumann's Heine Settings
When Thomas Hampson set about to prepare his first performance of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe, a cycle of songs based on poems by Heinrich Heine, he decided to consult the composer’s manuscript, only to find, to his surprise, that the original version, entitled 20 Lieder und Gesänge aus dem “Lyrischen Intermezzo”, was a completely distinctive work containing numerous musical and textual differences.
Intrigued by the changes which had occurred between Schumann’s composing his “great Heine cycle” in 1840 and its eventual publication in the shortened, altered version now familiar as Dichterliebe in 1844, Hampson, together with musicologist Renate Stark-Voit, began a detective hunt which led to the world premiere performances and recording of the original version.
“On his lips there played a bitterly ironic smile but it was a lofty smileRobert Schumann, on meeting Heinrich Heine in 1828
aimed at the trivialities of life and a scorn for petty men.
At certain points in time [Heine's] poetry dons the mask of irony in order to conceal its usage of pain; perhaps for a moment the friendly hand of a genius may lift that mask so that wild tears may be transformed into pearls.Robert Schumann