The opening musical idea of the piece Kapilow calls “four-notes-and-then-something.” The first time the pattern is heard, the notes gracefully ascend. The next time, that fourth note is even higher. Then Schumann repeats, to “make sure we get it in our heads,” says Kapilow. Yet a third version shows up, too — and it’s the very last time the pattern appears that is the clincher.
"It’s the same leap as the first time," Kapilow explains, but now it’s harmonized completely differently, with a chord that’s partly wistful, partly expectant.
"And that kind of epiphany," Kapilow says, "that slight change — the one telling chord, the one moment that sums up all the emotion — is what’s so perfect about "Träumerei". It’s the last step of dream world before you come back to reality."
"I sometimes think of it as a father watching the child go through that dream, but it’s an exquisite moment carefully contrived so that one leap has all the emotion of a great symphony. There’s a wonderful quote from Yeats that goes: ‘Any object properly regarded can be the pathway to the gods.’ And any chord, set up as beautifully as this, can somehow have the same value of radiant epiphany as a huge symphonic masterwork."