Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MMUS)




Robert Schumann and Johann Goethe made important contributions to the musical output of Western-European society. Robert Schumann, the composer, performer and critic, was a force in the Romantic movement of the nineteenth century. Johann Goethe's literary contributions, such as Faust and Wilhelm Meister, served as inspiration to eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century composers. This treatise will address the histories and philosophies of both these men as well as the progression of the art-song through the Romantic period. Specifically, this discussion will focus on Schumann's setting of three of Goethe's Mignon-Lieder taken from his novel Wilhelm Meister. The paper is divided into four main areas. Chapter one will focus on the life of Robert Schumann. The second chapter will examine the history and development of Schumann's lieder. The next chapter will discuss the career of Johann Goethe, and will focus primarily on his philosophy of lieder and how a composer should approach this form of music. The final chapter analyzes Schumann's setting of Goethe's Mignon-Lieder. The analysis includes an introspective on the text's poetic meaning and an analysis of selected musical elements from each song. Typically, the Mignon-Lieder is performed as a group of four songs: "Kennst du das Land," "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt," "Heiss mich nicht reden" and "So lasst mich scheinen." This treatise considers only the last three songs of this group, since the first is discussed widely in the literature. Ultimately the goals of this paper are to examine Schumann's settings of the Mignon-Lieder and their correspondence to the lieder ideals and philosophies of Goethe, and to provide musicians with a look into Schumann's compositional techniques and goals of each song discussed. The purpose is to provide performers with some suggestions on poetic interpretation that Schumann believed were important in his settings of these songs.


A Thesis Equivalent Project Presented to the Department of Music and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Music (MMUS) University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1992 Barbara E. Carlsen.