Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MMUS)




Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann [1810-1856] is a cycle of twenty-two short piano pieces whose titles allude to the European eighteenth-century masquerade and to musicians and persons in Schumann's private life. One of the pieces, entitled "Sphinxes," is actually a notation of three musical codes upon which most of the other pieces are based. In this perspective the pieces may be interpreted as variations on the encoded motifs. The musical codes were derived from letters found both in Schumann's name and in the name of Asch, which was the town in Bohemia where Ernestine von Fricken, Schumann's betrothed for a short time, resided. Schumann noted that the letters A.S.C.H. were also found in his own name, and was thus inspired to use these four letters to craft musical codes. This paper includes a brief overview of Schumann's life and the events leading to the composition of Carnaval. The pieces are discussed in detail, with reference to various printed editions and recorded performances. Tables of the pieces and the Sphinx motif used, the scores examined, and the recorded performances reviewed are included. Many musical examples from various editions are reproduced. The discussion highlights the ambiguous elements in the music, and how nuance, pedaling, tempo and rubato can be used interpretively.


A Treatise 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 1997 Dianne Lawson.