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Carnaval, Op. 9, is a work by Robert Schumann for piano solo, written in 1834-1835, and subtitled Scènes mignonnes sur quatre notes. It consists of a collection of short pieces representing masked revelers at Carnival, a festival before Lent. Schumann gives musical expression to himself, his friends and colleagues, and characters from improvised Italian comedy. For Schumann the four notes were encoded puzzles, and he predicted that "deciphering my masked ball will be a real game for you." The 21 pieces are connected by a recurring motif. In each section of Carnaval there appears either or both of two series of musical notes. These are musical cryptograms, as follows: ⁕A, E-flat, C, B - signified in German as A-S-C-H ⁕A-flat, C, B - signified in German as As-C-H ⁕E-flat, C, B, A - signified in German as S-C-H-A. The first two spell the German name for the town of Asch, in which Schumann's then fiancée, Ernestine von Fricken, was born. The sequence of letters also appears in the German word Fasching, meaning carnival. Asch is also German for "Ash," as in Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It also encodes a version of the composer's name, Robert Alexander Schumann. The grouping S-C-H-A encodes the composer's name again with the musical letters appearing in Schumann, in their correct order.
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