Märchenbilder (Schumann)

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Märchenbilder or Fairy Tale Pictures, for Piano and Viola, Op. 113, was written by Robert Schumann in March 1851. The work is dedicated to the German violinist and conductor Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski, it consists of four character pieces and is an original composition featuring the viola from the Romantic period.

Schumann gives us few clues as to what creatures or events are depicted within each movement, except in a section of his journals "hard to find and not translated into English" (note in Rumpelstiltskin, further details below).[citation needed] His 1853 composition Märchenerzählungen or Fairy Tales for Clarinet, Viola and Piano also leaves the details to the imagination of the performers and the audience.


  1. Nicht schnell (Not Fast) in D minor
  2. Lebhaft (Lively) in F major
  3. Rasch (Quick) in D minor
  4. Langsam, mit melancholischem Ausdruck (Slowly, with Melancholic Expression) in D major

Information found in Schumann's journals[edit]

The first two movements depict scenes from Rapunzel. A metronome speed of 84 for the crotchet is specified for the first movement (slower than rendered by most performers without this information).[citation needed]

The third movement depicts scenes from Rumpelstiltskin, in particular his dancing outside his house with attendant fairies. Accordingly, the metronome speed specified is 120 for the quaver (again, slower than rendered by most performers without this information, on the assumption, mooted on at least one (vinyl) record sleeve, that the movement depicts "a storm at sea").[citation needed]

The fourth movement depicts scenes from The Sleeping Beauty.[citation needed]

Whether Schumann found it unnecessary to specify metronome speeds for the second and fourth movements is unknown.


  • Margit L. McCorkle, Robert Schumann. Thematisch-Bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis, München-Mainz 2003, p. 160
  • Klaus Martin Kopitz & Torsten Oltrogge, Ein Dichter namens Louis du Rieux und Schumanns „Märchenbilder“ op. 113. Annäherungen an einen geheimnisvollen Verehrer des Komponisten, in: Denkströme. Journal der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, no. 11 (2013), p. 112–140 PDF

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