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Clara Schumann

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Clara Schumann
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Clara Schumann

Clara Josephine Wieck Schumann (September 13, 1819May 20, 1896), wife of composer Robert Schumann, was one of the leading pianists of the Romantic era as well as a composer.

Biography

Clara trained from an early age with her father, the well-known piano pedagogue Friedrich Wieck. She had a brilliant career as a pianist from the age of thirteen up to her marriage; the union between Clara and Robert was initially opposed by her father. She continued to perform and compose after the marriage even as she bore and raised seven children. In the various tours on which she accompanied her husband, she extended her own reputation farther than the outskirts of Germany, and it was thanks to her efforts that his compositions became generally known in Europe. Johannes Brahms, at age twenty, met the couple in 1853 and his friendship with Clara lasted until her death. Later that year, she also met violinist Joseph Joachim who became one of her frequent performance partners. Schumann is credited with refining the tastes of audience through her presentation of works by earlier composers including those of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven as well as those of Robert Schumann and Brahms.

From the time of her husband's death she devoted herself principally to the interpretation of her husband's works, but when in 1856 she first visited England the critics received Schumann's music with a chorus of disapprobation. She returned to London in 1865 and continued her visits annually, with the exception of four seasons, until 1882; and from 1885 to 1888 she appeared each year. In 1878 she was appointed teacher of the piano at the Hoch Conservatorium at Frankfurt am Main, a post which she held until 1892, and in which she contributed greatly to the modern improvement in technique.

As an artist she will be remembered, together with Joachim, as one of the first executants who really played like composers. Besides being remembered for her eminence as a performer of nearly all kinds of pianoforte music, at a time when such technical ability was considerably rarer than in the present day, she was herself the composer of a few songs and of some charming music, mainly for the piano, and the authoritative editor of her husband's works for Breitkopf and H䲴el.

Music of Clara Schumann

Schumann herself considered herself as a performing artist rather than a composer and no longer composed after age thirty-six. It is suggested that negative attitudes toward women's ability to compose influenced this as well the intimidating genius of Brahms and her husband. However, her compositions are increasingly performed and recorded. Her works include songs, piano pieces, a piano concerto, a piano trio with violin and cello, and three Romances for violin and piano. Inspired by her husbands birthday, the three Romances were composed in 1853 and dedicated to Joseph Joachim who performed them for King George V of Hanover, Germany who declared them a "marvelous, heavenly pleasure."

References

  1. Kamien, Roger. Music : An Appreciation. Mcgraw-Hill College; 3rd edition (August 1, 1997) ISBN 0070365210
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