The third movement of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat has one of the greatest melodies found in music of any variety. It’s comparable to the best of Bellini or Verdi. His opus 47 was written in 1842. It closely followed his Piano Quintet (opus 44) in the same key. Both works influenced Brahms subsequent piano quartets and quintets. Brahms was a close friend of the older composer.

The quartet was dedicated the Russian nobleman Count Matvei Wielhorski who was a cellist and impresario. The piano part was written for Schumann’s wife Clara, a great pianist. She played the piano at the quartet’s first performance April 5, 1843 at the Schumanns’ home in Leipzig.

The andante cantabile is is a romantic song-like movement in which the great melody is given mostly to the cello. The tune is simple in its yearning beauty. Words cannot depict it, so here is the entire third movement of the quartet. Schumann Piano Quartet 3rd Movement