While Hegel might have insisted that “the word is the most intelligent means of communication, the most adequate to the spirit,” and Berlioz celebrated “the power of true expression: the incomparable beauty of melody that comes from the heart,” the artist whose talents and allegiances are divided between literature and music knows that the two arts cannot be evaluated hierarchically. Simply put, one means of expression accomplishes what the other cannot. For someone who writes as well as she composes, the decision to work within one discipline rather than the other cannot be final or absolute. The example of Robert Schumann, the so-called “literary musician,” serves well here. As a youth, Schumann had difficulty deciding which of his two passions he would pursue as a career. Though he is now better known for his musical compositions, Schumann actually had a firmer grounding in literature than music, and only decided to become a piano virtuoso at the age of twenty. Throughout his life, Schumann continued to write prolifically; indeed, even his musical compositions betray his love of narrative, as he created and developed a private “musical language” based on literary and personal allusions. Schumann delighted in weaving these subtexts into his scores; though for the most part they remain mysteries even to his critics, they add an intensely intimate feeling to his works.
- Small Hand
- Musical Composition
- Musical Language
- York Public Library
- Piano Lesson
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Without music I should wish to die. Even poetry, sweet patron muse forgive me the words, is not what music is (Edna St. Vincent Millay to Allan Ross MacDougall; MacDougall 101).
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I. Writings of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Collected Poems. Edited by Norma Millay. New York: Harper and Row, 1956.
Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Edited by Allan Ross MacDougall. New York: Harper and Row, 1952.
Nierman, Judith. Edna St. Vincent Millay: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977.
III. Biography and Criticism
Breuer, Elizabeth. “Mother of Poets,” Pictorial Review 31 (March 1930): 6, 60, 65.
Brittin, Norman A. Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: Twayne, 1967.
Cheney, Anne. Millay in Greenwich Village. University, AL: University of Alabama, 1975.
Dash, Joan. “Edna St. Vincent Millay,” in A Life of One’s Own: Three Gifted Women and the Men They Married. New York: Harper and Row, 1973, 115–227.
Gray, James. Edna St. Vincent Millay. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1967.
Mattson, Francis O. Edna St. Vincent Millay: 1892–1950. New York: The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations, 1991.
Thesing, William B., ed. Critical Essays on Edna St. Vincent Millay. New York: G. K. Hall, 1993.
Kenneth W. Wheeler and Virginia Lee Lussier, eds. Women, the Arts, and the 1920s in Paris and New York. New Brunswick: Transaction, 1982.
Wilson, Edmund. “Edna St. Vincent Millay,” in The Shores of Light: A Literary Chronicle of the Twenties and Thirties. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Young, 1952, 744–793.
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Karbiener, K. (2000). This is Mine, and I Can Hold It: Edna St. Vincent Millay and Her Music. In: Kronegger, M. (eds) The Orchestration of the Arts — A Creative Symbiosis of Existential Powers. Analecta Husserliana, vol 63. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-3411-0_21
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