Eusebius and Florestan, Pierrot and Harlequin

Semi-finalist 2024

The image depicts multiple images of me playing the violin and representing the aspects of my personality playing together.
Submitted by:Erin James

This still from my video and article published in the University of Alberta Intonations Journal demonstrate Robert Schumann’s use of characterization in his music and present multiple perspectives by means of costume and the juxtaposition of musical lines. Drawing on the traits of Schumann’s own characters Florestan, Euesbius and Raro and on other personas such as Harlequin and Pierrot a mediation between vastly different aspects of personality is achieved in the audio-visual landscape of the piece. This echos Schumann’s own compositional practice as well as his personal struggle with mental health, a topic that is particularly relevant in terms of the strain caused by the isolation of the pandemic. The video itself is a product of isolation as pre-pandemic footage and photography has been combined to create a collective outward chamber music experience representing the internal world of dissonant multiple personalities. By exploring Schumann’s own internal world and compositional practices, what could be conceived of as a fourth movement to his first violin sonata emerges bringing together divergent character traits and reflecting the complexity that lies in the human psyche.

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How was your image created?
The image is a still from a video I created of me performing on the violin the predominantly Eusebian second movement of Robert Schumann’s first violin sonata superimposed with pre-pandemic footage of me performing the preeminently Florestinian third movement of the same piece in order to combine both personalities to maximum effect. The two musical lines intermingle and weave in and out as they alternate dominance to create a multidimensional, audio and visual interaction between the two dispositions. However, like Schumann, I am not content with only two perspectives. Instead, I seek to include other visual iterations of me that appear in a shadowy manner throughout the duration of the video, performing a function similar to that of the amalgamating Raro. The different aspects of my psyche are represented by costumes that I designed and created myself to symbolize the parts of my character that are ever-present in my experience. While the Florestan and Eusebius movements of Schumann’s violin sonata have been combined and reimagined into a single, impactful, Raro-like fourth movement, so all the disparate facets of my personality appear on stage symbolically in visual form.