Clara Schumann, the Remarkable Pianist and Composer

Hi there! My name’s Liza. Currently I live in Germany and study at Clara Schumann Gymnasium and this short article is about the woman after whom the school was named. I don’t know why the gymnasium was named after her but I had keen interest to get to know about her.

Level B1/B2

What was Clara Schumann most known for?

“The practice of art is a big part of who I am, it’s the air I breathe.” Clara Schumann

Clara Schumann, the remarkable pianist and composer was a true pioneer who had a profound impact on the history of music.

During her lifetime, Schumann was an internationally renowned concert pianist. Over 1,300 concert programs from her performances throughout Europe between 1831 through 1889 have been preserved. She championed the works of her husband and other contemporaries such as Brahms, Chopin and Mendelssohn.

Clara Josephine Schumann, whose maiden name was Wieck, was born in Leipzig on September 13, 1819. She was the daughter of the piano teacher Friedrich Wieck.

Clara was musically trained by her father with the clear goal of a career as a pianist. As early as 1828, the nine-year-old girl gave her first public performance in the Leipzig Gewandhaus. She was a child prodigy. At the tender age of 13, Clara was one of the first pianists to perform from memory. This has now become standard practice for most professional pianists. At the age of thirteen she went on a concert tour. Her concerts took her all over Europe and the very young musician celebrated great success and at the age of 16 was considered a pianist of European standing.

Clara not only learned the piano, she also studied singing, the violin, instrumentation, score reading, counterpoint and composition. By 1835 she was famous in the whole of Europe and was admired by Goethe, Mendelssohn, Chopi n, Paganini and, of course, Robert Schumann.

She met composer Robert Schumann . Their friendship eventually blossomed into love, although Clara’s father was against the relationship.

Clara Schumann met the composer Robert Alexander Schumann when she was only eight years old. He was a student of her father. Their friendship eventually blossomed into love, although Clara’s father was against the relationship. In 1840, the two married against Clara’s father’s resistance for many years. At that time she was already earning good money with her music and her concerts. They had a happy marriage and had eight children.

Clara Schumann gave up her own promising career in favor of her husband or interrupted it for a while. But she continued to focus on music. She earned most of the money in the Schumann household which was extremely unusual for the time. As early as 1843 she set Heinrich Heine’s Loreley song “I don’t know what’s supposed to mean” to music. Clara Schumann interpreted her husband’s compositions during the next 16 years of their marriage. She introduced them to a wide audience on concert tours. In 1853 the Schumanns met the young composer Johannes Brahms, who was only twenty years old. This developed into a close friendship, generally with Clara Schumann. Her husband Robert Schumann died three years later on July 29, 1856. After his death she continued to interpret her husband’s works and gave concerts, also abroad, for example in London. She became the leading and best interpreter of Schumann’s compositions. Together with Johannes Brahms she published all of her husband’s compositions. But she also turned to the pieces of Frederic Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms.

In the year of her husband’s death, Clara Schumann moved to Berlin. In 1863 she left Berlin again and moved to Lichtental near Baden-Baden. In addition to her career as a pianist, Clara Schumann, also found the time to compose herself. Schumann created a number of songs and chamber music works. Some of her works were published under her husband’s name. In 1878 she left Lichtental and moved to Frankfurt am Main. There she taught from 1878 to 1892 at the Hochschen Conservatory.

Clara Schumann died on May 20, 1896 in Frankfurt am Main.