Humoreske (Schumann)

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Humoreske in B-flat major, Op. 20, is a romantic piano piece by Robert Schumann, composed in 1839 and dedicated to Julie von Webenau.[1] Schumann cited Jean Paul's style of humour as source of inspiration, although there are no direct programmatic links to Jean Paul's oeuvre found in the piece.


The Humoreske consists of seven sections (not originally indicated as such by the composer except for the last one, "Zum Beschluss"), to be played attacca after each other. Although the piece is nominally written in B-flat major, most of the piece is set in B-flat major's relative minor key, G minor. The musical texture and emotional tone, though, varies widely and differs greatly between the sections:

  1. "Einfach" (Simple) (B major, common time, M. M. quarter note = 80)
    "Sehr rasch und leicht" (Very fast and light) (B major, 2/4, M. M. quarter note = 138)
    "Noch rascher" (Even faster) (G minor)
    "Erstes Tempo", Wie im Anfang (First tempo, as in the beginning) (B major, common time)
  2. "Hastig" (Hastily) (G minor, 2/4, M. M. quarter note = 126)
    "Nach und nach immer lebhafter und stärker" (Gradually more lively and stronger) (D minor)
    "Wie vorher" (As previously) Adagio
  3. "Einfach und zart" (Simple and delicate) (G minor, common time, M. M. quarter note = 100)
    "Intermezzo" (B major, 2/4, M. M. quarter note = 100)
  4. "Innig" (Heartfelt) (B major, common time, M. M. quarter note = 116)
    "Schneller" (Quicker) (Tempo I)
  5. "Sehr lebhaft" (Very lively) (G-minor/B major, 2/4, M. M. half note = 76)
    "Immer lebhafter" (Increasingly lively) Stretto
  6. "Mit einigem Pomp" (With some pomp) (modulating, common time, M. M. quarter note = 92)
  7. "Zum Beschluss" (To the resolution) (B major, common time, M. M. quarter note = 112 ) Allegro

A typical performance is about 27 minutes long. It is less popular with audiences than with pianists,[2] and Robert Cummings wrote that some musicologists view it as an ill-judged attempt by Schumann to “take his formula in Kreisleriana a step further.”[3] However, it has been championed by critics such as Judith Chernaik and John C. Tibbetts (who consider Humoreske among Schumann's greatest pieces)[4][5] as well as Anthony Tommasini, who referred to it as one of Schumann’s “most astonishing, and most overlooked, piano works”.[6]


  • Robert Schumann: Sämtliche Klavierwerke, vol. IV, Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden 1988, pp. 1–29.


  1. ^ "Humoreske IN B-flat, Op. 20", Los Angeles Philharmonic. Retrieved 2015-08-08. Archived 2015-09-19 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Phillips, Rick (2012-12-18). The Essential Classical Recordings: 100 CDs for Today's Listener. McClelland & Stewart. p. 94. ISBN 9781551995212.
  3. ^ "Humoreske for piano in B flat… | Details". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  4. ^ Chernaik, Judith (2018-09-18). Schumann: The Faces and the Masks. Knopf Doubleday. ISBN 9780451494474.
  5. ^ Tibbetts, John C. (2010). Schumann: A Chorus of Voices. Hal Leonard. p. 164. ISBN 9781574671858.
  6. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (December 16, 2010). "Favorite Schumann Recordings of Times Critics". The New York Times. Retrieved September 17, 2019.

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