10 Facts about Clara Schumann

By Zachariah Friesen

Clara Schumann

Clara Schumann

  1. Clara Wieck was a child prodigy virtuoso pianist and composer in Leipzig in the early 1800s.
  2. Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann met at a concert Clara was playing a concert for a mental institute more specifically Colditz Castle. She was just 9 years old at the time and a decade later, they married.
  3. At the age of 13, she was one of the first to perform from memory, which is now standard practice for all pianists.
  4. In one of the greatest pairings of the greatest virtuosos, Niccolo Paganini agreed to play a concert with Clara while both were on tour in Paris. It was also the greatest pairing of virtuosos that no one heard, as thousands fled Paris because of a cholera outbreak.
  5. Clara, for multiple reasons, was not a fan of Richard Wagner’s music. After hearing Tristan and Isolde, she famously reacted: “…the most repugnant thing I have ever seen or heard in all my life”.
  6. In another famous quote, this time about her husband’s music, she said: “How wonderful is such an incessantly creative powerful spirit; how I glory in the fortune that heaven has granted me sufficient intellect and feeling to comprehend this heart and soul so completely…”
  7. Clara frequently struggled with balancing great success as a wife, mother, composer, and well-respected and beloved virtuoso pianist. Her highly anticipated concerts and tours were often cancelled because of pregnancies and issues with Robert’s depression.
  8. In the May Uprising in Dresden, through unbelievable fearlessness and bravery, Clara brought one of her sons and Robert to a safe place in a nearby city away from the battlegrounds of their home. She then returned to the heart of danger, marching through the battle frontline to rescue her other kids and servants. As they left the city again, with her family in tow, she marched them back through the battle frontline to their safe place nearby.
  9. Clara and her husband were the first proponents of a young composer, Johannes Brahms. He lived with them and studied with them for a few months before heading off to Leipzig and great success with their support and blessings.
  10. After a failed suicide attempt by her husband, he was placed in an asylum. Johannes Brahms returned to their home to help out with the family and their relationship blossomed to something more. The physical intimacy of the relationship is unknown, but their feelings for each other cannot be denied in one of the more storied love triangles in classical music history.

Zachariah Friesen is the online merchandiser at Sheet Music Plus. He is also a freelance trombone player and private lessons teacher in the bay area. 

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