Bellman, Dr. Jonathan

Committee Member

Kauffman, Dr. Deborah


Music History and Literature


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



90 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Stephen Heller became a correspondent to the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik in 1836, marking the beginning of a long and close friendship with its editor, Robert Schumann. Among the affinities shared by the two musicians was a devotion to the novels of Jean Paul [Richter]. They considered the poetic and novelistic qualities that saturated their solo piano works to have been inspired by him, relating both their music and daily lives to his work. Heller published his Blumen-, Frucht-, und Dornenstücke, Op. 82 in 1853, naming his collection of character pieces after Jean Paul’s novel of the same title (though it is better known today as Siebenkäs). Key moments in the novel are expressed musically in exquisite detail, and stark musical contrasts reflect the characters’ changing psychological states throughout. In combination with Heller’s use of motif and topical vocabulary, these moods often hint at a deeper underlying meaning. Letters exchanged by Heller and Schumann at the time of their closest connection show that Heller identified personally with the challenges faced by Siebenkäs and other of Jean Paul’s fictional characters. In his Op. 82, Heller evokes Siebenkäs’s extravagant mood-changes, in their passion and excitement on the one hand (e.g. impetuoso, cacophonous three-octave scales representing a denied inheritance and Siebenkäs’s resulting outburst), as well as resignation and depression on the other (e.g. a con tristezza funeral procession in F minor for the staged death of Siebenkäs). Additionally, Heller’s use of Jean Paul’s title virtually proclaims his explicitly associative (and wholly Schumannesque) intent. Heller’s Op. 82 demonstrates a larger principle: as literature is translated into tones, novels and poems could provide a wealth of useful narrative and rhetorical devices. Viewing it through this novelistic lens, then, enables it to be understood as a close relative of its literary model, much as we understand the correspondence between Schumann’s Papillons, Op. 2, and the penultimate chapter of Jean Paul’s Flegeljahre. It also offers an alternative nineteenth-century approach to narrative or program, where the emotional content of a story provides the continuity, but the actual episodes and activities remain in the background.

Degree type


Degree Name



Heller, Stephen, 1813-1888


Jean Paul, 1763-1825



Local Identifiers


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Copyright is held by the author.