Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6 - Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6 is a suite of 18 solo piano pieces written in 1837 and published the following year. Originally meant to form part of a larger collection of works by Schumann, this suite eventually came to be considered one of the composer's most popular and best-known pieces for piano. A perfect storm of intricate composition and lively chord progressions, Davidsbundlertanze captures the essence of Schumann's piano playing style with a full range of emotions to explore, allowing listeners to feel intertwined with the music.

History and Release of the Piece

Inspired by a group of musicians from the Bible, Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6 is an exploration of the human spirit, captured in small two-part, three-part and four-part dance pieces. Though the opus is meant to represent a suite of dances, only three of the pieces showed clear indications of being individual dance forms. Schumann was motivated to compose the series at the suggestion of his friend Ludwig Schuncke and most of the suite was written over a two week period, and the final touches were made in just two days. The suite was dedicated to Ferdinand Hiller, a prosecutor, and then published by B. Schotts Söhne in Mainz with parts also published in Leipzig by F. Kistner and in Vienna by Haslinger. Schumann wrote fourteen of the pieces in the series, musician and composer Carl Reinecke created four others, and then the series was completed by composer Frederic Wieck.

Simplified Analysis of the Composition

Davidsbundlertanze contains many intricate, contrasting tempos and moods, ranging from waltzes to marches and folk-like pieces. Schumann often interchanges the three main characters throughout the pieces, making the suite even more thematically unified and creating a feeling of an ever-shifting conversation. The piece features more subtle elements of unexpected turns, melodic devices, and rhythmic influences that often surprise the listener as the music progresses. Schumann also made use of the space between the notes, and the pauses that he includes add to the musical tension of the piece, leading the listener to become more emotionally engaged with the music.

Why is Davidsbundlertanze So Popular?

A combination of more traditional ideas and more personal, unpredictable elements creates a powerful piece of music that has remained popular through the years, among professionals and enthusiastic music fans alike. The mixture of consummately written thèmes principaux and chromatic modulations, all grounded by a steady rhythm, has won over listeners so that even some of the earliest recordings of the piece often remain in the repertoire when the performance of the suite is given. The challenges of the piece, interspersed with the expressivity of the piece, make it a compelling work and one of the advantages of this piece is that it's an enjoyable experience whether the listener is a talented pianist looking for a challenge or someone simply looking for music to enjoy.

In its best moments, Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6 captures a spirit that is both challenging and mesmerizing. With its rhythmic diversity and its terrific harmonic writing, Robert Schumann’s masterpiece continues to captivate audiences, giving listeners a world-class experience.

Publication date: 20. 02. 2023