Schumann, Clara

(1819-1896)

Clara Josephine Wieck Schumann was born in Leipzig on 13 September 1819. She is considered one of the finest pianists of the Romantic era and one of the most distinguished woman composers of all time. To celebrate the 200th Anniversary of her birth, Musica Viva respectfully presents a special chamber music recital of some of her most beautiful compositions.

 

Daughter of Friedrich Wieck, a noted piano teacher, and Marianne Tromlitz, a famous singer, Clara began to perform as a child prodigy at the age of nine and went on a concert tour to several European cities at eleven. By the age of 18, she was performing to sell-out audiences and laudatory critical reviews describing her playing as epoch-making.

Paganini, Liszt, Chopin and numerous great musicians who heard her all praised her extravagantly. In March 1838, Clara was appointed Royal and Imperial Chamber Virtuoso of Austria, the highest honour in music conferred by the empire. She was only 19. 

 

On the day before her 21st birthday in 1840, Clara married Robert Schumann whom she had known for 10 years as her father’s piano student. Friedrich Wieck bitterly opposed the marriage and the young couple had to obtain a court decision in order to get married.

 

In addition to being trained as a piano virtuoso, Clara also began to study composition with her father at a young age and produced a significant body of works including a piano concerto written when she was 14, chamber music, songs, and many character pieces for solo piano. After her marriage, family responsibilities for a large household with eight children curtailed her career as a composer, but she continued to perform and tour frequently. Following the unfortunate early death of Robert Schumann, Clara devoted herself to promoting and editing the music of her husband and taught at the High Conservatory in Frankfurt.

 

Clara Schumann passed away in May 1896, aged 76.