Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Hugh Macdonald


Nineteenth-century Germany saw an expansion of choral music in a secular context, bringing about changes not only in the nature of the organizations but also in the character of the music. Often depicted in history books as the age of the Lied, the early nineteenth century was also the age of the Chorgesang, creating a demand for music for social gatherings. Amateur choruses and partsinging reached their peak of popularity in nineteenth-century Germany. Gesangvereinen: mixed voice choirs) soon broke into segregated choirs known as Liedertafeln: male voice choirs) and Frauenchoren: female voice choirs). These segregated choirs became a phenomenon and established themselves throughout middle-class Germany and the surrounding German-speaking regions, resulting in an abundance of compositions from every composer of significance and amateurs alike. Robert Schumann spent just over five years in Dresden from 1844-50. It is during this period that his interest in unaccompanied choral music is most apparent. In 1847, he became director of the Dresdner Liedertafel and a year later he founded his own Verein für Chorgesang. His work with these two organizations resulted in a prolific collection of partsongs for mixed voices, male voices, and female voices -- music that even today continues to be unfairly dismissed. After examining the history of the Gesangverein and its gendered counterparts in Dresden and Schumann's work within the traditions, a textual and musical comparison of Schumann's music for mixed choirs and his works for male and female voices will follow in an attempt to bring his partsongs back to the Schumann literature and, more importantly, back to private and public performance.


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