Alexander Stefaniak

​Assistant Professor of Musicology
research interests:
  • Nineteenth-Century Music
  • Instrumental Virtuosity
  • Romantic Aesthetics
  • Music Criticism
  • The Schumann Circle

contact info:

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1032
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

Alex Stefaniak has presented his work at national meetings of the American Musicological Society (most recently in 2014), at the International Liszt Congress, and at the North American Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music.​ At WashU, he has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on topics ranging from piano culture to comic opera.

For more information, visit Alexander Stefaniak's department profile.

Schumann’s Virtuosity: Criticism, Composition, and Performance in Nineteenth Century Germany

Schumann’s Virtuosity: Criticism, Composition, and Performance in Nineteenth Century Germany

Considered one of the greatest composers—and music critics—of the Romantic era, Robert Schumann (1818–1856) played an important role in shaping nineteenth-century German ideas about virtuosity. Forging his career in the decades that saw abundant public fascination with the feats and creations of virtuosos (Liszt, Paganini, and Chopin among others), Schumann engaged with instrumental virtuosity through not only his compositions and performances but also his music reviews and writings about his contemporaries. Ultimately, the discourse of virtuosity influenced the culture of Western “art music” well beyond the nineteenth century and into the present day. By examining previously unexplored archival sources, Alexander Stefaniak looks at the diverse approaches to virtuosity Schumann developed over the course of his career, revealing several distinct currents in nineteenth-century German virtuosity and the enduring flexibility of virtuosity discourse.