The Cry of the Schuhu
Dissonant History in a Late Schumann Song
In Robert Schumann's song “Warnung,” Op. 119, no. 2, the composer both foreshadows Mahler in certain moods (austere textures, free counterpoint with bone‐on‐bone dissonances) and hints at postrevolutionary disillusionment, veiled in folklore and inference. This song is couched between harmless, nonpolitical songs on texts by Gustav Pfarrius (1800–1884) from his anthology Die Waldlieder (The Forest Songs) of 1850. Pfarrius was a liberal, Schumann the more radical republican, but both men tell in “Warnung” of the menace to artists—the “little bird” of Pfarrius's poem—whose song can be silenced by the horned owl symbolic of evil political power.
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