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Schumann’s Faschingsschwank aus Wien (“Carnival Scenes from Vienna” or Carnival Prank in Vienna)

capitalizes on the theatrical memories of the Carnival and propels it to a plane of music beyond words. The piece is a
tribute to the celebration of Mardi Gras: revelry that includes music, drama, mime, masquerade, and dance. The
piece is composed of 5 movements that Schumann composed during his stay in Vienna and his return to Leipzig
during 1839.
The first movement Allegro, demands the attention of the audience with rapid harmonic motion, thick
textures and seven varying episodes. Each episode captures a specific theme described best by the emotions. At the
midway mark in the midst of a stream of interruptions to the boisterous blaring first theme, expect to hear a French
patriot appears and bursts into song encapsulating the prank of this piece. Carnival Prank in Vienna stems from a
quotation of the French national anthem which at the time was banned in Vienna as result of anti-Napleon
The second movement, in contrast to the excitement, glamour and dazzle the first movement embodies is
consumed with a feeling of despair. This not only a result of the tonality G minor but also the texture. The texture
remains very light, delicate and fragile throughout the entire piece.
However the third movement breaks away from the deep melancholic feeling and slips into the light-hearted
Scherzino. The Scherzino is developed by a straightforward two measure rhythmic motif that pervades through the
entire the movement. The further use of rhythm in this movement such as at the end further this emotion.
The intermezzo calls for a return to the thick textures reminiscent to the first movement. The
piece, almost entirely based on transpositions does not lack its own complexity. Marked by
competition for attention by the 4 voices soprano alto tenor and bass proper balance and pedaling
technique are key to clarity. The cascade of sound created by the alto has the possibility of blurring
the entire movement. However, with the bass and tenor standing firm throughout the piece the
soprano or melodic line receives its foundation to sing amidst the turbulence of the alto..
Lastly the Finale. It begins with triumphant and boisterous B-flats moving down in thirds.
The rapid pace of hustle and bustle nears a daring frenzy but never arrives. Calmed by a change in
texture it then glides across with the left hand providing foundation to the ever present melody in the
right. While the melody flows like a dance it turns ascending to a higher key. Tension and release
are key in this movement and it won’t fail to surprise you.

The forty-eight preludes and fugues that make up the two books of the Well-Tempered Clavier were compiled at two
different times-the first book in 1722 while Bach was in Köthen and in 1742 in Leipzig. In each book, the first prelude
and fugue set is in C major, followed by the next in C minor and so they ascend chromatically in major-minor pairs.
The preludes for the most part exhibit simple binary or ternary forms; a few (Nos. 9 and 12 in Book II) use the old
Baroque sonata form well-known in the works of Scarlatti. Quite exceptionally, the Prelude in D of Book II nearly
approaches the requirements of the modern sonata form. The fugues range from two to five voices, with three and
four being the preferable choices, and employ a wide range of contrapuntal techniques.

The twelfth prelude of Book I is set in the mournful key of F minor. It begins with an opening arpeggio figure set
against a pair of falling thirds in quarter notes. This arpeggio figure becomes the musical germ from which the rest of
the prelude springs. In the final bars of the prelude, the falling thirds are extended over a dominant pedal and bring it
to a close. The fugue begins with a chromatic subject and when combined with the answer, all twelve tones of the
chromatic scale are present. It is interesting that the fugue concluding the first half of Book I requires the subject and
answer to present all twelve chromatic pitches, while the final fugue of Book I, in B minor, presents all twelve in the
subject alone. This is obviously too convenient to be coincidental. Throughout the fugue, the subject appears with its
accompanying countersubjects with the sole exception of an entry of only the subject in E flat major in measure forty.
The last appearance of the subject appears in the bass creating a sense of inescapable gravity leading into the final
measures, before evaporating into trills on the fifth and third of the dominant chord and resolving into a major tonic