Schumann, Clara (Josephine) (née Wieck)

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Schumann, Clara (Josephine) (née Wieck)

Schumann, Clara (Josephine) (née Wieck ), famous German pianist, teacher, and composer, daughter of Friedrich Wieck and wife of Robert (Alexander) Schumann; b. Leipzig, Sept. 13, 1819; d. Frankfurt am Main, May 20, 1896. She was only 5 when she began musical training with her father. She made her debut at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on Oct. 20, 1828, where she gave her first complete recital on Nov. 8, 1830. Her father then took her on her first major concert tour in 1831–32, which included a visit to Paris. Upon her return to Leipzig, she pursued additional piano training as well as studies in voice, violin, instrumentation, score reading, counterpoint, and composition; she also publ several works for piano. In 1838 she was named kk. Kammervirtuosin to the Austrian court. Schumann entered Clara’s life in 1830 when he became a lodger in the Wieck home; in 1837 he asked her to marry him, a request which set off a contentious battle between the couple and Clara’s father; the issue was only settled after the couple went to court, and they were finally married on Sept. 12, 1840. They went to Dresden, and then to Düsseldorf (1850). In spite of her responsibilities in rearing a large family, she continued to pursue a concert career. She also became active as a teacher, serving on the faculty of the Leipzig Cons. and teaching privately. After her husband’s death in 1856, she went to Berlin in 1857; after a sojourn in Baden-Baden (1863–73), she lived intermittently in Berlin (1873–78). Throughout these years, she toured widely as a pianist; made regular appearances in England from 1856; toured Russia in 1864. In 1878 she settled in Frankfurt am Main as a teacher at the Hoch Cons., a position she retained with distinction until 1892. She made her last public appearance as a pianist in 1891. As a pianist, she was a masterly and authoritative interpreter of Schumann’s compositions; later she became an equally admirable interpreter of Brahms, her lifelong friend. She was completely free of all mannerisms, and impressed her audiences chiefly by the earnestness of her regard for the music she played. A remarkable teacher, she attracted students from many countries. As a composer, she revealed a genuine talent especially in her numerous character pieces for piano. She wrote a Piano Concerto (1836), a Piano Trio (1847), a Piano Concertino (1847), Drei Romanzen for Violin and Piano (1853), and some songs. Schumann made use of her melodies in several of his works. She wrote cadenzas to Beethoven’s concertos in C minor and G major; ed. the Breitkopf & Härtel edition of Schumann’s works, and some of his early correspondence; also ed. finger exercises from Czerny’s piano method.


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—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Schumann, Clara (Josephine) (née Wieck)

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