The Structural and Dramatic Role of the Piano in Richard Strauss's Krämerspiegel, Op. 66

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Although widely neglected in scholarship and performance, Richard Strauss’s song cycle Krämerspiegel is worthy of study primarily because of the unusual role of the piano accompaniment. The piano part in this cycle is unique in many ways: it possesses unusually long solo passages; it determines the compositional structure of both individual songs and the cycle as a whole; it articulates virtually every important theme within the cycle; and it assumes several personas throughout the cycle, the most powerful of which is the persona of Strauss himself. Strauss’s use of extended passages for solo piano clearly reflects the influence of Robert Schumann. Indeed, the solo passages for piano in Songs VIII and XII of Krämerspiegel pay direct homage to Dichterliebe’s postludes in the eighth and twelfth songs of that cycle; the fact that the final postlude of Krämerspiegel is in D-flat––the same key as the final postlude to Dichterliebe––is certainly no coincidence. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that the piano takes on a far more prominent role in Krämerspiegel than in any of Schumann’s song cycles; in fact, the piano now is more important than the voice. For this reason, Krämerspiegel assumes an important place in the evolution of the lied accompaniment. This paper focuses in particular on the extended piano prelude to Song VIII and its varied return as the postlude to Song XII. This highly expressive music is clearly meant to evoke the “sublime”; as such it contrasts strikingly with the rest of the cycle, which is essentially a satirical attack on music publishers of Strauss’s time. It will be demonstrated that the Krämerspiegel theme embodies not only the struggle of the artist to overcome adversity, but also the timeless purity of art and music. At the end of his life, Strauss reprised this theme in his opera Capriccio, again reiterating these timeless aesthetic principles.


Keywords: Strauss, Schumann, Music, Krämerspiegel, Capriccio, Dichterliebe
Stream: Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Matthew Ryan Hoch

Assistant Professor of Music, Department of Music, Shorter College
Rome, Georgia, USA

Dr. Matthew Ryan Hoch is Assistant Professor of Music at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia. He received the Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from Ithaca College, the Master of Music degree from the Hartt School, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance and literature from the New England Conservatory. Before coming to Shorter College, he was Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Barron. Prior to that appointment, he held part-time teaching positions at Northeastern University, Central Connecticut State University, the Hartt School, and the New England Conservatory. Dr. Hoch is an art-song specialist. He recently presented his research on Richard Strauss’s Krämerspiegel at the Indiana University (SNATS) New Vocal Educator’s Symposium and at the southeastern joint “mega-regional” conference for the Society for Music Theory (SMT), the American Musicological Society (AMS), and Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM). His current areas of research interest include further Strauss and Schumann studies, the American art song, and several pedagogical articles related vocal/choral teaching and learning. Dr. Hoch is a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta, Pi Lambda Theta, Kappa Delta Pi, and Phi Delta Kappa. He is a lifetime member of ACDA, MENC, SRME, AMS, and SEM, and an active member of NATS, MTNA, SMT, SIPA, and the Voice Foundation. He lives in Rome, Georgia with his wife, Theresa, and infant daughter, Hannah.

Ref: A07P0067