Clara Schumann (September 13, 1819 – May 20, 1896)
Born – Leipzig, Germany
Clara Schuman is considered to be one of the greatest pianist of the Romantic Era having established her extensive concert touring career at the early age of 13. Her career lasted 61 years during which she raised her family of 7 children, toured extensively throughout Europe, composed music and taught.
Her musical studies were begun at an early age given by her father, Friedrich Wieck, a notable music teacher. With him, she studied the piano, violin, voice and composition.
Robert Schumann, the famous composer, took note of Clara’s playing when she was young and came to live with the Wieck’s in order to study with her father and because he had developed an attraction toward Clara. Against her father’s wishes and after a lengthy battle with him, she and Robert married when she was 21. Throughout their marriage, she was the main support for the family, being the primary income earner as well as raising their 7 children.
During their marriage, they befriended Johannes Brahms, with whom they developed a life long friendship. As her career spread throughout Europe she became highly admired and made contacts with many of the leading musical figures including Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, and Paganini. In 1844, during a tour in Russia, she was named an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. After her husband Robert died in 1856, she devoted most of her life to the interpretation of his works as well as that of Brahms.
As a composer, she wrote songs, piano pieces, a piano concerto and several other works. While she enjoyed composing, unfortunately, she felt that women should not compose. At the age of 20, she wrote “A woman should not desire to compose – there has never yet been one able on to do it. Should I expect to be the one?” She stopped composing at the age of 36.
Throughout her life, she taught music, and in 1878 took a position as the principal piano teacher a the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, As a teacher, she made significant contributions to modern piano technique.