Nathan Fleshner

Schumann's Ich hab' im Traum geweinet: A Schenkerian and Freudian Perspective

This paper presents an analytical model combining Schenkerian analysis and Freudian dream interpretation. Drawing on the work of Allen Forte, Martin Eybl, and others, it demonstrates parallels between the music theories of Heinrich Schenker and the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. Both theorists emphasize instinctual drives that govern the development of music and the psyche, respectively.  Indeed, Schenker’s der Tonwille is quite like Freud’s libido. Additionally, both theorists discuss similar paths of drives toward satisfaction and alterations of those paths through various diversions, changes of object, and disappointments on the quest toward satisfaction. These paths toward a drive’s satisfaction create the structure of each analytic object – music and dreams, respectively.

Part two of this paper explores Schumann’s Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet from Dichterliebe as a manifestation of his unconscious from the time. A Schenkerian graph demonstrates parallel structures evident in both an analysis of the musical structure and a Freudian analysis of the song’s text. Schumann’s song involves three stanzas, each recalling separate instantiations of related dreams and three separate insufficient attempts to satisfy both musical and textual drives. These divergent paths toward satisfaction are shown to reflect Schumann’s doubts about his relationship with Clara Wieck at the time of his composing of Dichterliebe. Parallels between a Freudian interpretation of the text and a Schenkerian analysis of the music are shown to inform each other’s interpretation of the song.