Faschingsschwank aus Wien op.26, B-flat major
composed in 1839 - dedicated to Simonin de Sire in Dinant 

Allegro, Sehr lebhaft
Romanze, Ziemlich langsam 
Intermezzo, Mit größter Energie 
Finale, Höchst lebhaft 

“I have done almost nothing but compose over the last four weeks. Things flowed, I sang along with them, and the results were productive. In fact, it has been that way for the last year and a half—I seem to be in possession of the secret.” 
Letter to Clara, 1838

Schumann first referred to the “Faschingsschwank aus Wien,” op. 26, as a large romantic sonata. It is a five movement work that is characterized by the motif of a rising third combined with a falling fifth, a motif that would later appear as the motto of the “Spring” Symphony, op. 38. The fourth couplet of the rondo-like first movement includes a citation from the French revolutionary song, “La Marseillaise,” in  thundering fortissimo. This was in memory of Vienna, where the reactionary censors forbade the publishing of Schumann’s magazine. This first movement with its reoccurring theme and its tableaux (the subtitle is “Fantasy Pictures”) could have served as prototype for Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Amongst a Romanze, a humoristic Scherzino and the festive whirl of the Finale, an “Intermezzo” intones the “fantastic night” that Schumann later set to words and music in the Lied “Schöne Fremde” (Eichendorff). He wrote to Simonin de Sire: “…I am just now completing the latter, which pulls me to the piano. Perhaps you’ll also find that my style has grown lighter and more supple. Previously I brooded at length, while now I correct hardly a note. It all comes to me of itself, and sometimes it seems to me as if I could play on and never come to an end.” In his diary he noted: “Successful beginning of a Carnival farce; five movements, but it now resides on the shelf. Nevertheless, I will complete it.” A little later he wrote Clara, “It will amuse you, and is filling out nicely by the way, probably about 30 pages…” 


Translation: William Melton
© Franz Vorraber