Peter H. Smith; Hausmusik for Cognoscenti: Some Formal Characteristics of Schumann's Late-Period Character Pieces for Instrumental Ensemble. Music Theory Spectr 2015; 37 (1): 51-70. doi: 10.1093/mts/mtv001
Over the past several decades, scholars have shown increased appreciation for Robert Schumann's creative adaptation of sonata form. What remains bereft of detailed analytical engagement are some of the more compelling formal strategies Schumann devised in his character pieces for instrumental ensemble, especially those of the controversial late period. The Intermezzo from the Third Violin Sonata and the first of the Op. 113 Fairytales exhibit, in the context of ABA′ form, some of the same strategies of symbiotic form/content interaction Schumann brings to bear in his creative appropriation of sonata form. The first and third of the Op. 132 Fairytales adopt similarly sophisticated formal strategies but in the context of idiosyncratic designs not traceable to conventional architectonic patterns of the late eighteenth century. Similar to the view Dahlhaus (1989, 34) expresses about Beethoven's forms, Schumann's also “are individual and unique in the sense that they represent solutions to specific formal problems,” not only for sonata form but also for the small forms of these late-period character pieces.