Masterclass: Schumann: Fantasy Dance, Op. 124 No. 5 - Entrada

November 17, 2021

Masterclass: Schumann: Fantasy Dance, Op. 124 No. 5

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The warm reception of Schumann’s Album for the Young, Op. 68 in 1848 set the stage for more late-career success, as demand was high for similar works. This led the composer to repurpose many pieces he had set aside many years earlier. Schumann must have held reservations about some of his older works because he proposed that twenty piano pieces be gathered together and titled Spreu (Chaff–i.e., something of little value). His publisher rejected that title in favor of Albumblätter (Album Leaves) and issued the set as Op. 124. The individual pieces were composed between 1832-1845, including the 1836 work, Phantasietanz (Fantasy Dance). 

The Fantasy Dance only takes a minute to play and is just 24 measures long; of those, about half are repeated, so there are really only about 12 measures of music to learn. But this vibrant miniature is filled with Florestan energy–that passionate side of Schumann associated with impetuosity, exuberance, and impulsiveness!

Right from the outset, Schumann creates a flurry of fast notes that sound brilliant and forbidding. However, when we break down the larger arm impulses needed to play it, we can quickly play it with ease, with great speed. 

The B section features a typically impulsive, soaring, lyrical melody in the tenor voice accompanied by a frenzied right hand that reflects the main melody in its top line. This contributes to a marvelous agitato effect: a restless undercurrent of perpetual activity. This lesson features suggestions for interpreting Schumann’s hairpins to capture this spirit.

After filming this tutorial, I assigned Fantasy Dance to an intermediate student and have witnessed how the B section of the piece offers special technical and musical challenges. With that in mind, we’ll be filing it as “late intermediate” at Entrada.





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