Clara Schumann - Caroline Marshall
Updated: Apr 26
Caroline dug a little deeper into Clara Schumann following Naomi highlighting her in her female composer's playlist.
Clara was born in 1819 and grew up in Leipzig. Her father was a professional music teacher and pianist and her mother was a singer. At the age of 9, Clara made her debut as a pianist. Child prodigy, she made her first concert tour in Europe in 1831 with her father.
During a performance at Colditz Castle in 1828, she met Robert Schumann, also a talented pianist. He was nine years older than Clara, but she was very struck by his playing. He started lessons with Clara's father and rented a room in their house. In 1837, when Clara was 18, Robert asked Clara to marry him. She agreed, but her father refused permission. They took her father to court, and the judgment was in favour of their marriage. They married in 1840 on the eve of Clara's 21st birthday.
Clara pursued a very successful career as a concert pianist, touring extensively in Europe.
Robert suffered from his mental health and Clara became the main breadwinner, although Robert's music later became very famous. They had eight children, but four of them died before their mother.
Clara worked as a teacher and was the first piano teacher at the Frankfurt Conservatory. Clara has also composed music for piano, for chamber ensemble and for orchestra. She wrote her first piano concerto at the age of 14, followed by choral works and lieder. She wrote transcriptions of many works of her husband and those of Brahms who was a close friend. Robert Schumann collapsed and attempted suicide in 1854 and was admitted at his request to a mental institution. He died there two years later. She was only allowed to see him two days before his death. After his death, Clara continued her concert tours, her teaching and her composition. Clara's music was ignored after her death until the 1970s, and is often played now. She died in 1896 at the age of 76.
Listen to Clara Schumann Piano Trio Op.17 (1846)