Happy Birthday Clara Schumann!

Happy Birthday Schumann!

Today is the birthday of Clara Schumann. Regarded as one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, she is popularly known as the most important woman pianist of the 19th century as well as being an accomplished composer and piano teacher.

Schumann was born on this day in Germany in 1819. Her father was a professional pianist and her mother an accomplished singer. One of twelve children, she was trained by her father for two hours every day and became a child prodigy, touring Paris, Vienna and many other cities at the age of just 11.

Clara’s future husband Robert proposed to her in 1837 when Clara was just 18. However, her father was strongly opposed to the marriage and refused his permission. Robert & Clara went to court to sue him to allow the marriage to go ahead. Finally, the day before Clara’s 21st birthday, a judge allowed the marriage to take place. The couple led a happy married life, and had 8 children together. The Schumanns also had a close relationship with Johannes Brahms, and Clara actually premiered many of Brahms’ works in public.

Clara was an active performer during the 1870s and 80s, playing in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. She also was a keen composer, producing between 1 and 8 compositions each year from the age of 11. In later life she found it hard to compose regularly and turned her attention to other areas of music, transcribing the music of her husband Richard and her good friend Brahms.

Clara Schumann was not widely recognised as a composer for many years after her death. Most of her music was never played by anyone else and was largely forgotten until the 1970s when there was a resurgence of interest in her. However, she did make a lasting impression as a pianist. She was one of the first pianists to perform from memory, making it the future standard for concerts.

Clara Schumann suffered a stroke in March 1896 and died on 20th May at age 76. She was buried next to her husband in Bonn, Germany.

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