Robert Schumann’s Arabeske in C Major, Op. 18 for solo piano is dreamy and wistful. Its title evokes the intricate floral patterns of Arab architecture. In this ephemeral music, well-structured classical form is replaced by fluid fragments which combine to form a shimmering whole (Erika Reiman).
The opening bars give us the sense that we are joining music already in progress. The atmosphere is simultaneously tender and majestic. Phrases develop with obsessive repetition and symmetry. The flowing initial melody becomes the main theme of a five-part rondo, which concludes by drifting off into a coda filled with quiet longing. Schumann associated the home key of C major with childlike innocence and simplicity.
The Arabeske was written in the autumn of 1839. At the time, Schumann was attempting to marry Clara Wieck, over her father’s vehement objections. With brief pieces such as the Arabeske, which the composer dismissed, Schumann attempted to earn money to prove his worth.
This recording features the Italian pianist, Maurizio Pollini:
- Schumann: Arabeske in C Major, Op. 18, Maurizio Pollini Amazon
Featured Image: Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Iran, photograph by Amir Pashaei