Clara Schumann

Feminale of Music

The composer Clara Schumann on the blue 100 D-Mark note

»The practice of art is a big part of who I am. It's the air I breathe.« – Clara Schumann to Johannes Brahms, letter of October 15, 1868

Together with Fanny Hensel, Clara Schumann (1819–1896) is probably the most famous woman in music history today. In contrast to Fanny Hensel, who is largely forbidden to appear in public by her father and brother, Clara Schumann is systematically built up for a public career by her father as a child. She begins her career as a child prodigy at the piano with a performance at the Leipzig Gewandhaus at the age of 9. A picture-book career develops, during which Clara Schumann is one of the most sought-after international top pianists over many decades with exceptional consistency. She celebrates her 60th stage anniversary a few years before her death.

Even as a child, Clara Schumann also received composition lessons – an important building block of her career, since in the early 19th century the »composer-pianist« is a typical appearance, i.e. the composing pianist who plays his own compositions on the concert stage. Later, Clara is inspired to write her own compositions, especially by her husband, the composer Robert Schumann. For example, a joint composition is created, which is published under both names, the song cycle »Liebesfrühling« based on poems by Friedrich Rückert. Clara Schumann's oeuvre mainly comprises piano works and songs, but also chamber music and orchestral works. One of her most important compositions is the Piano Trio in G minor op. 17 from 1846. Clara Schumann died on May 20, 1896 in Frankfurt am Main.

In addition to the support of her husband, Clara Schumann is also handicapped in her own career by him. The largest English-language musicological encyclopedia, Grove, notes that Robert's creative work had priority over hers, and that for many years Clara was allowed to play and compose piano only during the hours when her husband was not disturbed. Other sources report that the concert tours that were important to Clara were always significantly restricted by Robert. After Robert's early death, Clara concentrated on her concert activities, gave up composing and moved to Baden Baden in 1862. In her small house in Lichtental on the edge of the Kloserwiese, musical salon culture is practiced. Besides Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann is also friends with Pauline Viardot-Garcia, a celebrated singer of her time, who is introduced in the living room concert today by Malika Reyad.

Today's day of the »Feminale of Music« is dedicated to the city of Karlsruhe. A radio feature by Clara Müller-Wirth entitled »Clara Schumann in Karlsruhe«, which was created as part of her Bachelorthesis 2019/2020 at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and the Karlsruhe University of Music, will be released. In it Clara Müller-Wirth reports on Clara Schumann's performances in Karlsruhe and quotes contemporary newspaper reviews and diary notes by Clara Schumann. The musicologists Beatrix Borchard and Joachim Draheim contribute expert knowledge about Clara Schumann in general and about her relationship to Karlsruhe.

Music Pieces

Pieces that Clara Schumann frequently performed in Karlsruhe include her own composition »Liebeszauber« and »Traumeswirren« by Robert Schumann. She played Brahms' famous Piano Quintet for the first time in Karlsruhe, in the house of the Karlsruhe Court Kapellmeister Hermann Levi, with whom she was a close friend.

Liebeszauber aus Sechs Lieder, Op. 13 #3, published by and sung by Anne Wright (soprano) accompanied by Brent Funderburk (piano). Recorded live at the Ravinia Steans Institute in August 2016

Robert Schumann: Fantasiestück Op.12 No. 7, published by Max Lima: Martha Argerich (piano) plays live on 29/01/2019 Fantasiestück »Traumes Wirren« as part of a concert recorded by the Italian radio station Rai 5

Johannes Brahms Sonata in F minor op. 34 b, published by and performed by Anastasia (1st piano) & Liubov Gromoglasova (2nd piano), recorded in 2012 at their duo recital in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

In the summer of 1864 – during Brahms' stay with Clara Schumann in Baden-Baden – both played the Sonata for two pianos for the later Countess Anna von Hessen


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Mon, 06.04.2020 – Fri, 01.05.2020