Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Keyboard Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Tian Ying

Second Committee Member

J. Robert Floyd

Third Committee Member

Santiago Rodriguez

Fourth Committee Member

Thomas M. Sleeper


The purpose of this study will be to examine Robert Schumann’s unique perceptive abilities. Most notably, it will serve as an argument that Schumann composed and understood music in a synesthetic way. In order to support this assertion there will be an examination of Schumann’s: medical records, autopsy, letters and other relevant bibliographic literature surrounding the composer’s life. In accordance with this, this document will also review the psychological, physiological and religious factors that underlie Schumann’s perception of reality and his compositional process. With this in mind, this paper will also attempt to shed light on Schumann’s writings through the vantage point of synesthetic experience. In summary, this paper will weigh the probabilities of ekphratic versus synesthetic composition in Schumann case and build the argument that Schumann decries programmatic description for poetic truth.


Schumann; Robert; synesthesia; ekphrasis; composition; magic circle