A comparison of Robert Schumann's and Hugo Wolf's settings of Goethe’s Mignon lieder

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Rivera, Carrie R.
Levitt, Joseph
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Thesis (M.M.)
School of Music
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This study has provided a comprehensive comparison of Robert Schumann's and Hugo Wolf's musical settings of Goethe's Mignon poetry from Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre to the character descriptions of Mignon found in Eric A. Blackwell and Victor Lange's English translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre, titled Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. Comparisons were made in order to ascertain which composer was able to capture the complex character of Mignon as seen in Goethe's novel through their musical settings. The four poems that were used in all assessments include Goethe's Kennst du das Land? Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, Heiss mich nicht reden, and So lasst mich scheinen. While Schumann was able to capture specific elements of Mignon's character as they were portrayed throughout Goethe's novel through his use of unifying musical characteristics, Wolf was not able to capture Mignon's character as seen in the novel due to his reliance on the textual reading of individual poems rather than how they corresponded to the character of Mignon in the context of Goethe's novel.