Novelletten op.21 
composed in  1838 - dedicated to Mr. Adolph Henselt 
Markirt und kräftig, F major
Äußerst rasch und mit Bravour, D major
Leicht und mit Humor, D major
Ballmäßig. Sehr munter, D major
Rauschend und festlich, D major
Sehr lebhaft, mit vielem Humor, A major
Äußerst rasch, Emajor
Sehr lebhaft, D major
“Now look at your old Robert — isn’t he still the fool, the teller of ghost stories and purveyor of fear?…"

Clara Schumann concertized in Vienna and was awarded with the title Kammervirtuosin. In 1838 Schumann had a very productive year after Clara accepted his proposal of marriage. The third important musical cycle of 1838 was the Novelletten, op. 26, which joined the Kinderszenen, op. 15, and the Kreisleriana, op. 16 (the latter originally planned as part of the Novelletten). The designation Novelletten stemmed from the literary genus, the novella. Schumann was writing musical letters to Clara, “longish interconnected adventure tales.” “I don’t think that anyone would deny me the chance to write you as often as you write me. And I’d prefer to do so in music — the friend that best expresses what is within. Indeed I have composed so horribly much over the last few weeks — amusing things, stories of Egmont, family scenes with fathers, a wedding, all highly amiable — and have called them all Novelletten.” In his diary he wrote: “From April 1st to the 19th — as if I was in heaven and transformed into one of the blessed — on the 9th a letter from my lass — composed curious Novelletten in B flat major (no. 5) and D major (no. 2) — adore them — a warm spring day — a picture of you — fugues and contrapuntal spirit in all my fantasies — otherwise full of longing.” Later he wrote Clara, who wished to play some of the pieces in concert: “I am generally quite pleased at your selections…but am totally against the Novellette in A — it only functions properly in its place in the cycle; alone it fades away too quickly…you would make the best impression with the second in D; it has a beginning and end, develops well so it can be followed by the listeners, and the trio offers good lyricism.” Schumann called  this second Novellette “Sarazene und Zuleika” after Goethe. The third Novellette was named for Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The composer wrote Clara in 1840: “Today I wished that you were here with Liszt. He is simply too extraordinary. He played the Novelletten, parts of the Phantasie, and the Sonata, and I was completely moved. Quite differently than I had imagined them, but always ingeniously, and to my ears with both a delicateness and directness of feeling that he does not usually employ. Only Becker was there, with tears in his eyes, I believe. The second Novellette in D major was a special joy to hear; you cannot possibly believe the effect it made; he will also include it in the third concert he is playing here.” 

Translation: William Melton
© Franz Vorraber