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Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish". Analysis by Gerard Schwarz (part 5)

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Video transcript

- Finally, it comes to the fifth movement. Obviously, you know, five movements, that's unusual. People weren't writing five movement symphonies, but Schuman did and the fifth movement starts out with a wonderful, simple melody, and he writes dolce. Dolce means sweetly. It's usually played in a kind of joyous way. He didn't write that. He wrote it without any staccato marks, without any marks to say you should play short. The second half of this melody is written with the staccato marks is more angular and lighter and more effervescent, more joyous in a sense, and this juxtaposition of these two ideas, this sweet dolce idea and this joyous idea, permeates the whole beginning of this movement. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann) The second theme does the same idea of the long, contrasting theme with occasional short notes, but he's always bringing you back and forth. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann) The development section is quite extensive. Schumann had tremendous imagination and he was able to combine this kind of dolce with the kind of staccato sections with short notes and it works really quite remarkably well. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann) Finally, the initial theme comes back with the strings playing tremolo and aggressively and the horns answering the theme, but it comes back quite loudly now. So in other words, instead of being this dolce melody, it is an aggressive melody. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann) And again, he brings back the second theme and the original key. Now, what's most interesting, obviously, as we've seen, Beethoven develops the coda, so the whole ending of this is fantastic. It starts with the glorious fanfare and the brass with the strings answering and then the strings joining into that fanfare. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann) And then, the whole end is based on the corral theme from the fourth movement. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann) If I didn't tell you that, and now show it to you, you wouldn't even notice probably, but in the back of our minds, we hear that and there's a certain familiarity that makes us feel very happy and content in hearing the music because it seems to make sense to us somehow and this ends in a fabulous way with a tremendous activity by the full orchestra and the horns with their fanfares that we hear throughout and the brass to be one of the great masterpieces, I think, of middle 19th century symphonic music. ("Symphony No. 3, Rhenish" by Robert Schumann)