Critics have long emphasized the stylistic distanced between Robert Schumann's early piano music and the more traditional works of the early 1840s. This essay clarifies-precisely by questioning-this seeming divide, showing how the finale of the 1842 Piano Quartet in Eb Major, Op. 47, interacts with Schumann's compositional and personal histories in multifarious and previously unexplored ways: (1) by reworking the effect of a lyrical arabesque within a sonata-form movement to a more "redemptive" end (thus deflecting a formal strategy for the first movement of the 1836 Fantasie, Op. 17); (2) by readopting the "parallel forms" of his earlier piano sonatas; and (3) by alluding to the fifth piece of Schumann's 1838 Novelletten, Op. 21, an idea that introduces within both works a play between private and public moments that echoes aspects of Robert and Clara's life as it evolved from their early betrothal to married life in 1842. The article also demonstrates links to the works of two significant predecessors: Schubert's F-Minor Impromptu, Op. 142, and Bb-Major Piano Trio, Op. 99, and Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata, Op. 106, works evoked by the finale in ways that gauge Schumann's affinity for, yet also distance from, his precursors.
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