Kinderszenen op.15
composed in 1838
Von fremdem Ländern und Menschen
Kuriose Geschichte
Bittendes Kind
Glückes genug
Wichtige Begebenheit
Am Kamin
Ritter vom Steckenpferd
Fast zu ernst
Kind im Einschlummern
Der Dichter spricht
"Kinderszenen," Op. 15 dates from the beginning of 1838, and was soon to find wide popularity. Out of the cycle's thirteen pieces, "Träumerei" is still its composer's most famous work. The main theme is a rising figure of a sixth followed by a descending line. In the prior "Fantasiestücke," Schumann had portrayed the question "Warum?" with a rising sixth, a question that was answered in "Kinderszenen." As explained in Schumann's diary: "In the evening again the Kinderszene in F major, which seems to me to be very pretty-Incidentally, it is my girl that makes me so happy." In a letter to Heinrich Dorn Schumann wrote in 1839 about "Kinderszenen": "It is hard to imagine anything more incompetent or ignorant than what Rellstab wrote about my Kinderszenen. He asserts that I placed a crying child in front of me and composed the tunes to match. The opposite is true. I cannot deny that images of particular children were present while I composed; but the titles came later and do not represent more than subtle hints for performance and comprehension." "As far as the difficult question of how far instrumental music may go in the representation of thoughts and events is concerned, many approach this question too timidly. One is certainly in error if one believes that composers address pen to paper in the wretched attempt to express this or that, to describe, to paint. However, incidental  external influences and impressions do make their not trifling presence felt. Subconsciously, an idea proceeds alongside musical imagination, the eye in tandem with the ear, and a certain contour adheres to the sounds and pitches which can solidify and develop along with the advancing music."

In his diary stands the terse sentence, “Composed the little snippet ‘Träumerei’ [‘Reverie’].” The next day he wrote: “In the evening again Kinderszene in F major, which strikes me as very pretty. My sweetheart makes me so blissful, by the way, that I need not even mention here that I return home no later than nine every evening.” He wrote her, “I have learned that tension and longing for something inspires me just as much as imagination, as was again the case over the last few days, when I composed whole books full—whimsical, wild, and even genial—while I was waiting for a letter from you. You will be surprised when you finally play it: lately I often feel like I am exploding with music. And I don’t forget what I have composed. Perhaps an echo of your words when you wrote me, ‘I sometimes seemed to you like a child.’ In short, it was as if I were clothed in wings when I wrote the thirty droll little things, of which I selected about twelve and named them ‘Kinderszenen’ [Scenes of Childhood, op. 15].”  “The Kinderszenen will be ready at your arrival; I like them very much, and they make quite an impression when I perform them, particularly on me.”

Translation: William Melton
© Franz Vorraber