Saturday, August 08, 2009


Träumerei is the seventh of thirteen pieces in Robert Schumann's piano collection Kinderszenen ("Scenes from Childhood"). I had once performed the whole collection. I was already an "advanced" player, but somehow, these short and supposedly easy pieces eluded me. I could hit all the notes precisely, but failed at conveying the gentleness of Schumann's scenes. Träumerei is perhaps the best-known, and was the most difficult for me on account of a non-musical technicality. Träumerei means "dreaming," but the linguist in me kept staring at the title of the piece and seeing it associated with "trauma."

Today, I dug out my violin and found the piece transcribed for the string instrument. I shoved aside the linguist in me and harkened the dreamer. To me, Schumann's collection is like Renoir's paintings, and I tried to draw my bow across the strings as Renoir would have swept his brush across the canvas, with lively flourish wrapped around a core of calm reflection.

In the end, I must admit that my violinist's fingers and arms have not grown up enough to play the piece satisfactorily. Music requires maturity of the heart as well as of the requisite muscles. I dare to think that my heart has grown enough; however, my muscles required for violin still need some time and experience, some gruelling and battering.

Tomorrow, I will try my hand at the piano. Perhaps my piano fingers can channel enough experience and wisdom to paint a picture of gentle innocence.

* Please visit the Wikipedia entry for Kinderszenen and listen to the thirteen different scenes played beautifully by Donald Betts.

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