Struggled big-time with the title for Part One of my Schumann Trilogy. Started with Fantasiestücke, but it sounded too derivative. Switched to Fantasy, but it sounded too bland. Moved on to Fractured Fantasy, but that was too clumsy. Back to Fantasiestücke, because I was beginning to get desperate.
Then, about two weeks ago, I hit on Figments and Fragments, which seemed about right. The piece finds a connection between Schumann’s early groupings of character pieces and his final madness. It’s not a literal connection, as in one-caused-the-other, of course. It’s a poetic connection, as in poetic license. As in, there is an attractive parallel between Schumann’s early love for these fragmentary structures and the final disintegration of his mind.
The seven sections of Figments and Fragments are continuous, as follows:
- Demonic March
Regret and Giddiness quote Schumann in a way that is instantly recognizable. The other pieces have more of a conceptual connection to his work.
Over the course of Figments and Fragments, the cracks between the character pieces gradually grow in length and intensity, culminating in the last and longest piece, Disintegration.
The actual composing of Figments and Fragments took place late August through September, with some major reworking in December. Funny, though the details changed drastically and frequently, the basic conception was pretty much there from the start. That’s not always the case – sometimes it takes me a long time to find what a piece wants to do.
In this case, it just took a long time to figure out what it wanted to call itself.