Clara Schumann

1819 - 1896

Works in the repertoire



Clara Schumann, born Clara Wieck on September 13, 1819 in Leipzig and died on May 20, 1896 in Frankfurt am Main, was a German pianist and composer. Considered one of the greatest pianists of the Romantic period, she composed piano concertos and chamber music.

She was the wife of the Romantic composer Robert Schumann, and the couple were very close to Johannes Brahms. She was the first to perform both her husband's and Brahms's works, and also worked with the violinist Joseph Joachim.

She began touring at the age of eleven. Her international career continued for 61 years.

In 1878, she joined Frankfurt's Hoch Conservatory as a piano teacher.

After her mother's departure in 1824, her father, Friedrich Wieck, a renowned piano teacher, worked to turn her into a concert prodigy. He taught her a flashy repertoire, corresponding to a contemporary style, with pieces by Kalkbrenner, Henselt, Thalberg and Herz, but in her creations she drew inspiration from Baroque composers such as Scarlatti and Bach.

His half-sister, Marie Wieck, is also a pianist and composer.

At the age of six, she gave her first concert with Émilie Reichhold, a highly reputed pianist, and met with her first success.

In 1827, the year she turned eight, she met Robert Schumann, who was studying with her father at the age of seventeen. At the age of sixteen, she fell in love with him. He asked her father for her hand in marriage when she reached her 18th year, but Friedrich Wieck vigorously opposed the marriage. The lovers were forcibly separated, but communicated through friends and musical messages at Clara Schumann's concerts. The marriage finally took place in Schönefeld in 1840, in execution of a court order. Eight children, including Felix Schumann, were born of their union, which greatly slowed Clara Schumann's musical career.

As the first interpreter of her husband's works, she made his music known and appreciated, and, according to him, she was the only one who fully understood its delicacies. Clara Schumann herself was the composer of some forty works, but she partly neglected composition in favor of the piano and her role as mistress of the house. As a pianist, she is considered one of the greatest pianists of the XIXe century.

In 1854, Robert Schumann was committed to Dr. Richarz's asylum for the insane, near Bonn. Widowed in 1856, Clara Schumann became a friend, advisor and inspiration to Johannes Brahms, but she now claimed that her only moments of happiness were when she played or listened to her late husband's music.

Source :