Schumann Symphonic Etuden Op.13: XII. Con Espressione (9Th Variation)
The Études Symphoniques Op.13 takes composing structure from Beethoven’s Op.111 and Diabelli Variations: the theme is amplified and transformed, and becomes the basis for unexpected divergent expressive characters.
Composed in 1834 by a young 24 years old Schumann in response to the revolutionary Chopin Studies Op.10, it was first published in 1837 as XII Etudes Symphoniques. As Chopin’s technical studies became concert pieces through beautiful but virtuosistic lyrical themes, Schumann's Op.13 amplified the concert studies in 'Symphonic Ètudes' that transformed the piano in an “orchestra” full of magnificent complexity of colors and different timbres.
Schumann composing language is peculiarly divided in two imaginary characters in whom he reflected his dual personality: Eusebius and Florestan. In the first version of the Op.13, the studies were divided in an equal alternation of lyrical, melancholy and introvert pages (Eusebius) with those of more passionate, excitable and dynamic nature (Florestan), but in the 1837 version Florestan prevails.
Schumann composed sixteen variations on Fricken's theme, but only eleven were published by the composer as “Études symphoniques”. The opera was dedicated to his English friend W.S. Bennett who played the Op.13 frequently in England to great acclaim. This is the reason why the twelfth etude, “Finale” is unexpectedly a variation on the theme “Proud England, rejoice!”.