WHO: Robert Schumann
The Faces and the Masks,
a new biography by Judith Chernaik
WHEN: Published by Knopf September 21, 2018
WHERE: The author lives in London.
WHY: “Altogether outstanding.
“Following Beethoven’s lead, most of the greatest Romantic composers became, of necessity, entrepreneurs and legends in their own time. None of their stories is sadder than Robert Schumann’s, involving as it does a haunted conscience; a tremendous struggle for personal happiness; a steady flow of musical creativity; and then, long-drawn-out mental and physical collapse.
“His story is oft-told, but Chernaik’s version eclipses its predecessors in two, perhaps three, respects. She has accessed newly released documentation of Schumann’s final illness that confirms it was tertiary syphilis (immediate cause of death was pneumonia); primary neuropathology can now be dismissed. She fills the book with descriptions of Schumann’s compositions that are more easily followed and more thorough than most recording liner notes and that convincingly relate each piece to Schumann’s life circumstances as well as to his other music — all without excerpting musical scores.
“The third distinction stems from the fact that Chernaik is also a novelist. She doesn’t get bogged down in data or scholarly one-upmanship, her vocabulary is direct and strong, and she keeps the line of Schumann’s life ever before us; her Schumann biography is not a life-and-times but rather a life-and-works.”
–Ray Olson, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“A sturdy foundation of research and musical knowledge and love underlies this inspiring and wrenching account of a man who pursued, captured, and lost.
Chernaik rewards those who journey through these pages with insights and conclusions that make the reading experience both enjoyable and educative.”
–KIRKUS, a starred review
“A very personal take on Schumann’s life, drawing on unpublished
archival material as well as his diary entries.” –Edward B. Cone, LIBRARY JOURNAL
Knopf. With 16 pages of color photos.
349 pages. $30 ISBN 978-0-451-49446-7
About the book and author | Read an excerpt | Download the jacket | Download the photo of Schumann | Download the author photo
To interview the author, contact:
Katie Schoder | 212-572-2103 | firstname.lastname@example.org