Revitalizing classical song through authentic amateur performance
Dichterliebe - Poet's Love
What is Dichterliebe?
Robert Schumann’s beautiful song cycle for voice and piano, Dichterliebe (Poet’s Love), tells the story of a young man rejected in love, who comes to terms with his loss through reconciliation and forgiveness.
Set to poems from a the Lyric Intermezzo by Heinrich Heine and later published as a set of 16 songs, Dichterliebe was originally a longer cycle than is commonly heard today. Schumann first composed Dichterliebe as a group of 20 songs during his famous ‘year of song’ – 1840 – a time when he poured out his feelings of fierce and youthful love for his new bride Clara into hundreds of romantic songs for voice and piano.
As the cycle was prepared for publication, four songs were removed (we number them 4a, 4b, 12a, and 12b, since they are placed after songs 4 and 12 in the standard cycle). We do not know whether Schumann himself took the decision to remove these songs, or whether it was the decision of the editor.
To learn more about the history of the cycle, please see the interesting essay on the original version of Dichterliebe by Thomas Hampson and his colleagues, which can be found by following the link on the right of this page.
Students on the Dichterliebe Project worked on Schumann’s original 20-song version of the song cycle, studying this in group performance classes, private solo and duo coachings, seminars, and workshops.
Download a Score
Download score for low voice
Download a translation
Download an essay on the original version of Dichterliebe
Score containing all 20 songs
What is the Dichterliebe Project?
The Dichterliebe Project is a song performance course for adult amateur singers and pianists aged 30 or older who would like to improve their interpretive, collaborative, and performance skills as part of an intensive course on Schumann’s beautiful song cycle, Dichterliebe or Poet’s Love.
Led by instructors Kathryn Whitney and Anna Cal, and taught over a series of weekends in February and March 2016, the Dichterliebe Project offers singers, pianists, and non-performing auditors the chance to take part in a unique joint performance project exploring the music, poetry, and performance tradition of Schumann’s monumental song cycle.
Collaborative work is a key component of the Dichterliebe Project. The course will teach students about Dichterliebe as a work of poetry and music, but it is also designed to go deeper into the cycle as a reflection of the intimate and convivial performing tradition that supports it. The Dichterliebe Project is thus more than simply a course leading to a performance of an important piece; it also affords participants unprecedented insight into the intimate and intriguing collaborative relationship between pianist and singer that lies at the core of Dichterliebe, and of the song repertoire for voice and piano.
The Dichterliebe Project achieves this balance between instruction and exploration by placing collaborative performance at the heart of the course.
Our students include performing singers and pianists, understudy singers and pianists, and auditors.Each type of student plays an important role in the project, whether as part of a performing pair, as a member of an understudy partnership, or as an engaged audience member and classmate who provides receptive listening and commentary to both the students and instructors throughout the course.
Singer-pianist duos are the cornerstone of the Dichterliebe Project. All performers and understudies will be paired with a number of partners to form singer-pianist duos that will work together to explore Schumann’s songs within collaborating partnerships, as would have been common among amateur musicians during Schumann’s lifetime.
The course finishes with three Final Concerts – two Final Student Concerts and one Final Faculty Concert. The Final Student Concerts will feature a full performance of the 20-song original version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe in which each student will perform between two and four songs as part of joint performance of the piece. The Final Student Concerts will also feature a pre-performance presentation On Dichterliebe, which will be given by those students who are performing on the alternate evening.
The Final Faculty Concert will feature a performance of Dichterliebe in the second half, with the rest of the program curated to include pieces that explore themes relating to the poetry and music of Dichterliebe.
For further information, please see the ‘Course Elements’ and ‘Sample Timetable’, right.
Click below for further details
Solo & Duo Coachings
Faculty Open Rehearsals
Final Student Concerts
Each concert will feature two parts: (1) a full performance of the 20-song version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, performed jointly by a group of singer-pianist duos, each performing two or more songs; and (2) a pre-performance presentation on Dichterliebe given by the students who are not performing that evening.
The presentation will take place first and will last about 30 minutes. There will then be a short intermission (10-15 minutes), followed by a full performance of the 20-song cycle. The running order of student performers and presenters will be announced two weeks before the end of the course.
The student concerts are open to the public. Admission is by donation on the door.
Throughout the course, the students will be working on Schumann’s original 20-song version of Dichterliebe, and it is this version of the piece that they will perform in their final concerts. (Follow this link to learn more about the different versions of Schumann’s Dichterliebe.)
Our final concerts
The collaborators on the Dichterliebe Project gave two final concerts at the end of our 6-week course. These took place in the Robin & Winifred Wood Hall at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Canada in March 2016.
Our performance aimed first and foremost to communicate the interest and beauty of Heine’s poems and Schumann’s music.
We also aimed to recreate a performance atmosphere that would be representative of what might happen a mid-19th-century salon in a number of respects: our performers were all amateurs; most of our performers used their scores; we divided the songs up between different pairs of pianists and singers; and students performed in the key best suited the singer. Key relationships between songs were preserved where possible.
Our performers worked together in a number of fixed singer-pianist duos throughout the course. Each pairing brought a unique perspective on the shape, pace, and sonority of Schumann’s interesting songs. As you will hear and see below, our students turned out thoughtful and heartfelt performances that offer quite different insights into Schumann’s songs than those we gain from professional performances.
We hope you will enjoy getting to know the song cycle Dichterliebe through the lens of the Dichterliebe Project, and that you may be encouraged in your own amateur music-making, wherever you may be.
Download a translation
Hear more on our YouTube Channel
Contributing Partners – The Dichterliebe Project
We are very grateful to the following people, who are contributing donor partners on the Dichterliebe Project:
The SongArt Performance Research Group
The Institute of Musical Research, University of London
The Victoria Conservatory of Music
The NRS Foundation
Ursula & Erwin Hahn