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This article is about the composer. For the French statesman and founding father of the European Union, see Robert Schuman.
Robert Schumann in an 1850 daguerreotype

Robert Schumann[1] (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as Kinderszenen, Album für die Jugend, Blumenstück, Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, against the wishes of her father, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to a mental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

Biography[edit]

Bust of Robert Schumann in the museum of Zwickau

Early life[edit]

House where Robert Schumann was born in 1810

Schumann was born in Zwickau, in the Kingdom of Saxony, the fifth and last child of Johanna Christiane (née Schnabel) and August Schumann.[2] Schumann began to compose before the age of seven, but his boyhood was spent in the cultivation of literature as much as music – undoubtedly influenced by his father, a bookseller, publisher, and novelist.[3]

Schumann began receiving general musical and piano instruction at the age of seven from Johann Gottfried Kuntzsch, a teacher at the Zwickau high school. The boy immediately developed a love of music and worked at creating musical compositions himself, without the aid of Kuntzsch. Even though he often disregarded the principles of musical composition, he created works regarded as admirable for his age. The Universal Journal of Music 1850 supplement included a biographical sketch of Schumann that noted, "It has been related that Schumann, as a child, possessed rare taste and talent for portraying feelings and characteristic traits in melody,—ay, he could sketch the different dispositions of his intimate friends by certain figures and passages on the piano so exactly and comically that everyone burst into loud laughter at the similitude of the portrait." (W.J. von Wasielewski 17–19)

At age 14, Schumann wrote an essay on the aesthetics of music and also contributed to a volume, edited by his father, titled Portraits of Famous Men. While still at school in Zwickau, he read the works of the German poet-philosophers Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as well as Byron and the Greek tragedians. His most powerful and permanent literary inspiration was Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, known simply as Jean Paul, a German writer whose influence is seen in Schumann's youthful novels Juniusabende, completed in 1826, and Selene.

Schumann's interest in music was sparked by seeing a performance of Ignaz Moscheles playing at Karlsbad, and he later developed an interest in the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn. His father, who had encouraged the boy's musical aspirations, died in 1826 when Schumann was 16. Neither his mother nor his guardian thereafter encouraged a career in music. In 1828 Schumann left school, and after a tour during which he met Heinrich Heine in Munich, he went to Leipzig to study law (to meet the terms of his inheritance). In 1829 his law studies continued in Heidelberg, where he became a lifelong member of Corps Saxo-Borussia Heidelberg. (See also: Corps)

Music room of Schumann

1830–34[edit]

During Eastertide 1830 he heard the Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer Niccolò Paganini play in Frankfurt. In July he wrote to his mother, "My whole life has been a struggle between Poetry and Prose, or call it Music and Law." By Christmas he was back in Leipzig, at age 20 taking piano lessons from his old master Friederich Wieck, who assured him that he would be a successful concert pianist after a few years' study with him.

During his studies with Wieck, Schumann permanently injured his right hand. One suggested cause of this injury is that he damaged his finger by the use of a mechanical device designed to strengthen the weakest fingers, a device which held back one finger while he exercised the others. Another suggestion is that the injury was a side-effect of syphilis medication. A more dramatic suggestion is that in an attempt to increase the independence of his fourth finger, he may have undergone a surgical procedure to separate the tendons of the fourth finger from those of the third. The cause of the injury is not known, but Schumann abandoned ideas of a concert career and devoted himself instead to composition. To this end he began a study of music theory under Heinrich Dorn, a German composer six years his senior and, at that time, conductor of the Leipzig Opera. About this time Schumann considered composing an opera on the subject of Hamlet.

Papillons[edit]

The fusion of literary ideas with musical ones – known as program music – may be said to have first taken shape in Papillons, Op. 2 (Butterflies), a musical portrayal of events in Jean Paul's novel Die Flegeljahre. In a letter from Leipzig dated April 1832, Schumann bids his brothers "read the last scene in Jean Paul's Flegeljahre as soon as possible, because the Papillons are intended as a musical representation of that masquerade." This inspiration is foreshadowed to some extent in his first written criticism, an 1831 essay on Frédéric Chopin's variations on a theme from Mozart's Don Giovanni, published in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Here Chopin's work is discussed by imaginary characters created by Schumann himself: Florestan (the embodiment of Schumann's passionate, voluble side) and Eusebius (his dreamy, introspective side) – the counterparts of Vult and Walt in Flegeljahre. A third, Meister Raro, is called upon for his opinion. Raro may represent either the composer himself, Wieck's daughter Clara, or the combination of the two (Clara + Robert).

A youthful Robert Schumann

In the winter of 1832, Schumann, 22 at the time, visited relatives in Zwickau and Schneeberg, where he performed the first movement of his Symphony in G minor (without opus number, known as the "Zwickauer"). In Zwickau, the music was performed at a concert given by Clara Wieck, who was then just 13 years old. On this occasion Clara played bravura Variations by Henri Herz, a composer whom Schumann was already deriding as a philistine.[4] Schumann's mother said to Clara, "You must marry my Robert one day."[5] Although the Symphony in G minor was not published by Schumann during his lifetime, it has been played and recorded in recent times.

The 1833 deaths of Schumann's brother Julius and his sister-in-law Rosalie in the worldwide cholera pandemic brought on a severe depressive episode. The composer made his first apparent attempt at suicide.[citation needed]

Die neue Zeitschrift für Musik[edit]

By spring 1834, Schumann had sufficiently recovered to inaugurate Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik ("New Journal for Music"), first published on 3 April 1834. Schumann published most of his critical writings in the journal, and often lambasted the popular taste for flashy technical displays from figures whom Schumann perceived as inferior composers. Schumann campaigned to revive interest in major composers of the past, including Mozart, Beethoven and Weber, while he also promoted the work of some contemporary composers, including Chopin (about whom Schumann famously wrote, "Hats off, Gentlemen! A genius!")[6] and Hector Berlioz, whom he praised for creating music of substance. On the other hand, Schumann disparaged the school of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. Among Schumann's associates at this time were composers Norbert Burgmüller and Ludwig Schuncke (to whom Schumann's Toccata in C is dedicated).

Schumann's editorial duties during the summer of 1834 were interrupted by his relations with 16-year-old Ernestine von Fricken – the adopted daughter of a rich Bohemian-born noble – to whom he became engaged. Having learned in August 1835 that Ernestine von Fricken was born illegitimate, which meant that she would have no dowry, and fearful that her limited means would force him to earn his living like a "day-labourer", Schumann made a complete break with her toward the end of the year, due to his growing attraction to 15-year-old Clara Wieck. They made mutual declarations of love in December in Zwickau, where Clara appeared in concert. His budding romance with Clara was soon brought to an end when her father learned of their trysts during the Christmas holidays; he summarily forbade them further meetings and ordered all correspondence between them burnt.

Carnaval[edit]

Robert Schumann, lithograph by Josef Kriehuber, in 1839.

Carnaval, Op. 9 (1834) is one of Schumann's most characteristic piano works. Schumann begins nearly every section of Carnaval with a musical cryptogram, the musical notes signified in German by the letters that spell Asch (A, E-flat, C, and B, or alternatively A-flat, C, and B; in German these are A, Es, C and H, and As, C and H respectively), the Bohemian town in which Ernestine was born, and the notes are also the musical letters in Schumann's own name. Eusebius and Florestan, the imaginary figures appearing so often in his critical writings, also appear, alongside brilliant imitations of Chopin and Paganini. The work comes to a close with a march of the Davidsbündler – the league of King David's men against the Philistines – in which may be heard the clear accents of truth in contest with the dull clamour of falsehood embodied in a quotation from the seventeenth century Grandfather's Dance. The march, a step nearly always in duple meter, is here in 3/4 time (triple meter). The work ends in joy and a degree of mock-triumph. In Carnaval, Schumann went further than in Papillons, by conceiving the story as well as the musical representation (and also displaying a maturation of compositional resource).

1835–39[edit]

On 3 October 1835, Schumann met Felix Mendelssohn at Wieck's house in Leipzig, and his enthusiastic appreciation of that artist was shown with the same generous freedom that distinguished his acknowledgement of Chopin's greatness and most of his other colleagues, and which later prompted him to publicly pronounce the then-unknown Johannes Brahms a genius.

Clara Wieck in 1838

Despite the opposition of Clara's father, she and Robert continued a clandestine relationship which matured into a full-blown romance. In 1837, he asked her father's consent to their marriage, but was refused. Wieck ridiculed his daughter's wish to "throw herself away on a penniless composer."[citation needed]

In the series of piano pieces Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, Schumann expresses the fusion of literary and musical ideas as embodied conceptions in such pieces as "Warum" and "In der Nacht". After he had written the latter of these two, he detected in the music the fanciful suggestion of a series of episodes from the myth of Hero and Leander. The collection begins, in "Des Abends", with a notable example of Schumann's predilection for rhythmic ambiguity, as unrelieved syncopation plays heavily against the time signature, (leading to a feeling of 3/8 in a movement marked 2/8) somewhat analogous to that of the first movement of Faschingsschwank aus Wien. After a fable – and the appropriately titled "Dream's Confusion" – the collection ends on an introspective note in the manner of Eusebius.[citation needed]

In 1837 Schumann published his Symphonic Studies, a complex set of étude-like variations written in 1834–1835, which demanded a finished piano technique. These variations were based on a theme by the adoptive father of Ernestine von Fricken. The work – described as "one of the peaks of the piano literature, lofty in conception and faultless in workmanship" [Hutcheson] – was dedicated to the young English composer William Sterndale Bennett, for whom Schumann had had a high regard when they worked together in Leipzig.

The Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6, (also published in 1837 despite the low opus number) literally "Dances of the League of David", is an embodiment of the struggle between enlightened Romanticism and musical philistinism. Schumann credited the two sides of his character with the composition of the work (the more passionate numbers are signed F. (Florestan) and the more dreamy signed E. (Eusebius)). The work begins with the 'motto of C.W.' (Clara Wieck) denoting her support for the ideals of the Davidsbund. The Bund was a work of Schumann's imagination, members of which were kindred spirits (as he saw them) such as Chopin, Paganini and Clara, as well as the personalized Florestan and Eusebius.

Kinderszenen, Op. 15, completed in 1838 and a favourite of Schumann's piano works, depicts the innocence and playfulness of childhood. The "Träumerei" in F major, No. 7 of the set, is one of the most famous piano pieces ever written, which has been performed in myriad forms and transcriptions. It has been the favourite encore of several great pianists, including Vladimir Horowitz. Melodic and deceptively simple, the piece has been described as "complex" in its harmonic structure.[7]

Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)

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Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838), considered one of Schumann's greatest works, carried his fantasy and emotional range deeper. Johannes Kreisler was the fictional poet created by poet E. T. A. Hoffmann, and characterized as a "romantic brought into contact with reality". Schumann used the figure to express emotional states in music that is "fantastic and mad." According to Hutcheson ("The Literature of the Piano"), this work is "among the finest efforts of Schumann's genius. He never surpassed the searching beauty of the slow movements (Nos. 2, 4, 6) or the urgent passion of others (Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7)...To appreciate it a high level of aesthetic intelligence is required...This is no facile music, there is severity alike in its beauty and its passion."

Fantasie C major, Op. 17 (1836, revised 1839)



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The Fantasie in C, Op. 17, composed in the summer of 1836, is a work of passion and deep pathos, imbued with the spirit of the late Beethoven. Schumann intended to use proceeds from sales of the work toward the construction of a monument to Beethoven (who had died in 1827). The first movement of the Fantasie contains a musical quote from Beethoven's song cycle, An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98 (at the Adagio coda, taken from the last song of the cycle). The original titles of the movements were to be "Ruins", "Triumphal Arch" and "The Starry Crown". According to Franz Liszt,[8] who played the work for Schumann and to whom it was dedicated, the Fantasie was apt to be played too heavily, and should have a dreamier (träumerisch) character than vigorous German pianists tended to impart. Liszt also said: "It is a noble work, worthy of Beethoven, whose career, by the way, it is supposed to represent".[9] Again, according to Hutcheson: "No words can describe the Phantasie, no quotations set forth the majesty of its genius. It must suffice to say that it is Schumann's greatest work in large form for piano solo".[citation needed]

After a visit to Vienna, during which he discovered Franz Schubert's previously unknown Symphony No. 9 in C, in 1839 Schumann wrote the Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival Prank from Vienna). Most of the joke is in the central section of the first movement, in which a thinly veiled reference is made to "La Marseillaise" (the song had been banned in Vienna due to harsh memories of Napoleon's invasion). The festive mood does not preclude moments of melancholic introspection in the Intermezzo.

After a long and acrimonious legal battle with her father, Schumann married Clara Wieck on 12 September 1840, at Schönefeld, the day before her 21st birthday. Had they waited another day, they would no longer have required her father's consent. Their marriage proved a remarkable business partnership, with Clara acting as an inspiration, critic, and confidant to her husband. Despite her delicate appearance, she was an extremely strong-willed and energetic woman, who kept up a demanding schedule of concert tours in between bearing multiple children. Two years after they married, Friedrich Wieck at last reconciled himself with the couple, eager to see his grandchildren.

1840–49[edit]

In the years 1832–1839, Schumann had written almost exclusively for the piano, but in 1840 alone he wrote 168 songs. Indeed 1840 (referred to as the Liederjahr or year of song) is highly significant in Schumann's musical legacy despite his earlier deriding of works for piano and voice as inferior.

Prior to the legal case and subsequent marriage, the lovers exchanged love letters and rendezvoused in secret. Robert would often wait in a cafe for hours in a nearby city just to see Clara for a few minutes after one of her concerts. The strain of this long courtship (they finally married in 1840), and of its consummation, led to this great outpouring of Lieder (vocal songs with piano accompaniment). This is evident in "Widmung", for example, where he uses the melody from Schubert's "Ave Maria" in the postlude—in homage to Clara. Schumann's biographers have attributed the sweetness, the doubt and the despair of these songs to the varying emotions aroused by his love for Clara and the uncertainties of their future together.

Robert and Clara had eight children, Emil (1846–1847), who died at 1 year; Marie (1841–1929); Elise (1843–1928); Julie (1845–1872); Ludwig (1848–1899); Ferdinand (1849–1891); Eugenie (1851–1938); and Felix (1854–1879).

Profiles of Clara and Robert Schumann

His chief song-cycles of this period were his settings of the Liederkreis of Joseph von Eichendorff, Op. 39 (depicting a series of moods relating to or inspired by nature); the Frauenliebe und -leben of Chamisso, Op. 42 (relating the tale of a woman's marriage, childbirth and widowhood); the Dichterliebe of Heine, Op. 48 (depicting a lover rejected, but coming to terms with his painful loss through renunciation and forgiveness); and Myrthen, a collection of songs, including poems by Goethe, Rückert, Heine, Byron, Burns and Moore. The songs Belsatzar, Op. 57 and Die beiden Grenadiere, Op. 49, both to Heine's words, show Schumann at his best as a ballad writer, although the dramatic ballad is less congenial to him than the introspective lyric. The Opp. 35, 40 and 98a sets (words by Justinus Kerner, Chamisso and Goethe respectively), although less well known, also contain songs of lyric and dramatic quality.

Franz Grillparzer said, "He has made himself a new ideal world in which he moves almost as he wills."[citation needed]

Despite his achievements, Schumann received few tokens of honour; he was awarded a doctoral degree by the University of Jena in 1840, and in 1843 a professorship in the Conservatory of Music, which Felix Mendelssohn had founded in Leipzig that same year. On one occasion, accompanying his wife on a concert tour in Russia, Schumann was asked whether "he too was a musician". He often harbored considerable resentment over Clara's success as a pianist, which exceeded his own reputation as a composer.[citation needed] (Schumann had had dreams of being a concert pianist himself, but his playing abilities were never as good as his wife's, possibly due to muscle damage in his hands as discussed above).[citation needed]

Andante and Variations, Op. 46 (1843)
Performed by Neal and Nancy O'Doan (pianos), Carter Enyeart and Toby Saks (cellos) and Christopher Leuba (horn)



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In 1841 he wrote two of his four symphonies, No. 1 in B flat, Op. 38, "Spring" and No. 4 in D minor (the latter, a pioneering essay in 'cyclic form', was performed that year but published only much later after revision and extensive reorchestration as Op. 120). He devoted 1842 to composing chamber music, including the Piano Quintet in E flat, Op. 44, now one of his best known and most admired works; the Piano Quartet and three string quartets. In 1843 he wrote Paradise and the Peri, his first essay at concerted vocal music, an oratorio style work based on Lalla-Rookh by Thomas Moore. After this, his compositions were not confined to any one form during any particular period.

The stage in his life when he was deeply engaged in setting Goethe's Faust to music (1844–53) was a critical one for his health. He spent the first half of 1844 with Clara on tour in Russia. On returning to Germany, he abandoned his editorial work and left Leipzig for Dresden, where he suffered from persistent "nervous prostration". As soon as he began to work, he was seized with fits of shivering and an apprehension of death, experiencing an abhorrence of high places, all metal instruments (even keys), and drugs. Schumann's diaries also state that he suffered perpetually from imagining that he had the note A5 sounding in his ears.

His state of unease and neurasthenia is reflected in his Symphony in C, numbered second, but third in order of composition, in which the composer explores states of exhaustion, obsession and depression, culminating in Beethovenian spiritual triumph. Also published in 1845 was his Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54, originally conceived and performed as a one-movement Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra in 1841. It is one of the most popular and oft-recorded of all piano concertos; pace Hutcheson "Schumann achieved a masterly work and we inherited the finest piano concerto since Mozart and Beethoven".

In 1846, he felt he had recovered. In the winter, the Schumanns revisited Vienna, traveling to Prague and Berlin in the spring of 1847 and in the summer to Zwickau, where he was received with enthusiasm. This pleased him, since at that time he was famous in only Dresden and Leipzig.

His only opera, Genoveva, Op. 81, was written in 1848. In it, Schumann attempted to abolish recitative, which he regarded as an interruption to the musical flow (an influence on Richard Wagner; Schumann's consistently flowing melody can be seen as a forerunner to Wagner's Melos). The subject of Genoveva—based on Ludwig Tieck and Christian Friedrich Hebbel—was not an ideal choice. The text is often considered to lack dramatic qualities; the work has not remained in the repertoire. As early as 1842 the possibilities of German opera had been keenly realized by Schumann, who wrote, "Do you know my prayer as an artist, night and morning? It is called 'German Opera.' Here is a real field for enterprise ... something simple, profound, German". And in his notebook of suggestions for the text of operas are found amongst others: Nibelungen, Lohengrin and Till Eulenspiegel.

The music to Byron's Manfred was written in 1849, the overture of which is one of Schumann's most frequently performed orchestral works. The insurrection of Dresden caused Schumann to move to Kreischa, a little village a few miles outside the city. In August 1849, on the occasion of the centenary of Goethe's birth, such scenes of Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust as were already completed were performed in Dresden, Leipzig and Weimar. Liszt gave him assistance and encouragement. The rest of the work was written later in 1849, and the overture (which Schumann described as "one of the sturdiest of [his] creations") in 1853.

After 1850[edit]

From 1850 to 1854, Schumann composed in a wide variety of genres. Critics have disputed the quality of his work at this time; a widely held view has been that his music showed signs of mental breakdown and creative decay. More recently, critics have suggested that the changes in style may be explained by "lucid experimentation".[10]

In 1850, Schumann succeeded Ferdinand Hiller as musical director at Düsseldorf, but he was a poor conductor and quickly aroused the opposition of the musicians. According to Harold C. Schonberg (The Great Conductors) "The great composer was impossible on the platform ... There is something heartrending about poor Schumann's epochal inefficiency as a conductor."[citation needed] His contract was eventually terminated. From 1851 to 1853 he visited Switzerland, Belgium and Leipzig. In 1851 he completed his Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish" (a work containing five movements and whose 4th movement is apparently intended to represent an episcopal coronation ceremony). He revised what would be published as his fourth symphony.

On 30 September 1853, the 20-year-old composer Johannes Brahms arrived unannounced on the door of the Schumanns carrying a letter of introduction from violinist Joseph Joachim. (Schumann was not at home, and would not meet Brahms until the next day.) Brahms amazed Clara and Robert with his music, stayed with them for several weeks, and became a close family friend. (He later worked closely with Clara to popularize Schumann's compositions during her long widowhood.)

During this time Schumann, Brahms and Schumann's pupil Albert Dietrich collaborated on the composition of the F-A-E Sonata for Joachim; Schumann also published an article, "Neue Bahnen" ("New Paths") in the Neue Zeitschrift (his first article in many years), hailing the unknown young Brahms from Hamburg, a man who had published nothing, as "the Chosen One" who "was destined to give ideal expression to the times."[11] It was an extraordinary way to present Brahms to the musical world, setting up great expectations which he did not fulfill for many years.[12] In January 1854, Schumann went to Hanover, where he heard a performance of his Paradise and the Peri organized by Joachim and Brahms. Two years later at Schumann's request, the work received its first English performance conducted by William Sterndale Bennett.

Grave of Robert and Clara Schumann at Bonn

Schumann returned to Düsseldorf and began to edit his complete works and make an anthology on the subject of music. He suffered a renewal of the symptoms that had threatened him earlier. Besides the single note sounding in his ear (possibly evidence of tinnitus[citation needed]), he imagined that voices sounded in his ear and he heard angelic music.[citation needed] One night he suddenly left his bed, having dreamt or imagined that a ghost (purportedly the spirit of either Schubert or Mendelssohn) had dictated a "spirit theme" to him. The theme was one he had used several times before: in his Second String Quartet, again in his Lieder-Album für die Jugend, and finally in the slow movement of his Violin Concerto. In the days leading up to his suicide attempt, Schumann wrote five variations on this theme for the piano, his last published work, today known as the Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations).[13] Brahms published it in a supplementary volume to the complete edition of Schumann's piano music. In 1861 Brahms published his Variations for Piano Four Hands, Op. 23, based on this theme.

Robert Schumann monument at his birthplace Zwickau, Germany

In late February 1854, Schumann's symptoms increased, the angelic visions sometimes being replaced by demonic visions. He warned Clara that he feared he might do her harm. On 27 February 1854, he attempted suicide by throwing himself from a bridge into the Rhine River. Rescued by boatmen and taken home, he asked to be taken to an asylum for the insane. He entered Dr. Franz Richarz's sanatorium in Endenich, a quarter of Bonn, and remained there until he died on 29 July 1856 at the age of 46. During his confinement, he was not allowed to see Clara. She finally visited him two days before his death. He appeared to recognize her, but was unable to speak.

Given his reported symptoms, one modern view is that his death was a result of syphilis, which he may have contracted during his student days, and which would have remained latent during most of his marriage.[14] According to studies by the musicologist and literary scholar Eric Sams, Schumann's symptoms during his terminal illness and death appear consistent with those of mercury poisoning, mercury at this time being a common treatment for syphilis and other conditions. Another possibility is that his neurological problems were the result of an intracranial mass. A report by Janisch and Nauhaus on Schumann's autopsy indicates that he had a "gelatinous" tumor at the base of the brain; it may have represented a colloid cyst, a craniopharyngioma, a chordoma, or a chordoid meningioma.[15] In particular, meningiomas are known to produce musical auditory hallucinations, such as Schumann reported.[16] Still other sources surmise that Schumann had bipolar disorder, citing his mood swings and changes in productivity.[17][18][19]

From the time of her husband's death, Clara devoted herself to the performance and interpretation of his works. In 1856, she first visited England, but the critics received Schumann's music coolly. Critics such as Henry Fothergill Chorley were particularly harsh in their disapproval. She returned to London in 1865 and made regular appearances there in later years. She became the authoritative editor of her husband's works for Breitkopf & Härtel. It was rumoured that she and Brahms destroyed many of Schumann's later works, which they thought to be tainted by his madness. However, only the Five Pieces for Cello and Piano are known to have been destroyed. Most of Schumann's late works, particularly the Violin Concerto, the Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra and the Violin Sonata No. 3, all from 1853, have entered the repertoire.

Legacy[edit]

Birthplace of Robert Schumann in Zwickau in 2005
The East Germany 1956 Schumann/Schubert error: Schubert's music is on the top stamp, and Schumann's on the bottom
1960 Russian Post stamp marking the 150th anniversary of Schumann's birth.

Schumann had considerable influence in the nineteenth century and beyond, despite his adoption of more conservative modes of composition after his marriage. He left an array of acclaimed music in virtually all the forms then known. Partly through his protégé Brahms, Schumann's ideals and musical vocabulary became widely disseminated. Composer Sir Edward Elgar called Schumann "my ideal."

Schumann has not often been confused with Austrian composer Franz Schubert, but one well-known example occurred in 1956, when East Germany issued a pair of postage stamps featuring Schumann's picture against an open score that featured Schubert's music. The stamps were soon replaced by a pair featuring music written by Schumann.

Compositions[edit]

Fictional portrayals[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Daverio, Grove online. According to Daverio, there is no evidence of a middle name "Alexander", which is given in some sources.
  2. ^ Ostwald, page 11
  3. ^ Robert Schumann (1982). Konrad Wolff, ed. On Music and Musicians. Translated by Paul Rosenfeld. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-04685-6. 
  4. ^ Robert Schumann, musical Journal
  5. ^ Berthold Litzmann 1910
  6. ^ Vladimir Ashkenazy's notes, Favourite Chopin
  7. ^ Alban Berg, replying to charges that modern music was overly complex, pointed out that Kinderszenen is constructed on a complex base.
  8. ^ Strelezki: Personal Recollections of Chats with Liszt
  9. ^ Anton Strelezki: Personal Recollections of Chats with Liszt. London, 1893.
  10. ^ Daverio, Grove online, 19
  11. ^ Robert Schumann's "Artikel Neue Bahnen", 28 October 1853
  12. ^ Brahms' A German Requiem, published in 1868, brought the first widespread recognition of his talent.
  13. ^ From All Music Guide, available at http://www.answers.com/topic/variations-on-an-original-theme-for-piano-in-e-flat-major-geister-variationen-woo-24
  14. ^ Reich, Nancy B., Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman, Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 151.
  15. ^ Jänisch W, Nauhaus G. "Autopsy report of the corpse of the composer Robert Schumann: publication and interpretation of a rediscovered document", Zentralbl Allg Pathol 1986; 132:129–136.
  16. ^ Scott M. "Musical hallucinations from meningioma", JAMA 1979; 241:1683.
  17. ^ Evan Fairmont (7 July 2010). "Music and madness at Vail Symposium". Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Marin Alsop (21 June 2008). "Robert Schumann: Music amid the Madness". Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  19. ^ Miranda Sawyer (8 February 2009). "Bipolar music – and how to get the mood swinging on Today: Robert Winston's Musical Analysis, R4". The Observer. UK. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  20. ^ Song of Love at the American Film Institute Catalog
  21. ^ de:Geliebte Clara

References[edit]

  • Daverio, J, "Robert Schumann," Grove music online, L Macy (ed), accessed 24 June 2007 (subscription access)
  • Ostwald, Peter, Schumann – The inner voices of a musical genius, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1985 ISBN 1-55553-014-1.
  • Scholes, Percy A, The Oxford Companion to Music, Tenth Edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1970 ISBN 0193113066.
  • Fuller-Maitland, John Alexander. (1884). Schumann. S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 978-1-108-00481-7)
  • Ostwald, Peter (1985). Schumann, The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius. Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-014-1. 
  • Perrey, Beate (ed.) (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Schumann. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-78950-8. 
  • Rice-See, Lynn (2008). The Piano Teaching of Walter Hautzig with 613 Examples from the Works of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin, Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-4981-7
  • Tunbridge, Laura (2007). Schumann's Late Style. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87168-6. 
  • Worthen, John (2007). Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a Musician. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11160-6.  The author argues that the composer was mentally normal all his life, until the sudden onset of insanity near the end resulting from tertiary syphilis.

External links[edit]

Life and works
Sheet music
Recordings and MIDI


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876 news items

Audiophile Audition

Audiophile Audition
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 21:30:00 -0700

Nicholas Roth plays ROBERT SCHUMANN: Humoreske, Op. 20; 8 Novellettes, Op. 21 – Nicholas Roth, piano – Blue Griffin BGR 321, 75:11 (4/8/14) [Distr. by Albany] ****: Nicholas Roth, a pupil of luminaries Ralph Votapek, Elisso Virsaladze, and Edward ...

Audiophile Audition

Audiophile Audition
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 15:27:54 -0700

SCHUMANN: Overture, Scherzo, and Finale, Op. 52; Manfred Overture, Op. 115; Julius Caesar Overture, Op. 128; Hermann and Dorothea Overture, Op. 136; “Zwichau” Symphony – Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie/ Frank Beermann – CPO multichannel ...
 
SCNow
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:08:52 -0700

... Francis Marion University will present an Artist Series at its Performing Arts Center in downtown Florence. The series kicks off with pianist Evgeny Rivkin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. He will be playing pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven and Robert Schumann.
 
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 05:11:15 -0700

«Alles, was Odem hat, lobe den Herrn!» Ohne falsche Bescheidenheit begann Robert Schumann sein Lebenswerk: Mit elf Jahren vertonte er den 150. Psalm. Wenige Wochen zuvor hatte er in der Marienkirche seiner Heimatstadt Zwickau an der ...
 
San Jose Mercury News
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:12:02 -0700

These include the composer Robert Schumann and his private, songful world, with which the conductor feels a special intimacy, as if he could open a door and walk inside it. And then there is Beethoven, whose Missa solemnis -- a massive work for ...

El Ojo Digital

El Ojo Digital
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 08:56:15 -0700

Incluso conoce a la perfección todo lo necesario para extender el legado de Robert Schumann, Jean Monnet, Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer y Paul-Henri Spaak -legado que continúa vigente. Donald Tusk cree en la Unión Europea; considera que es ...

Banbury Guardian

Banbury Guardian
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 03:18:45 -0700

Sir Tony, a practising barrister specialising in Construction Law, was awarded the Robert Schumann Silver Medal for contribution to European politics in 1975. He takes a keen interest in foreign affairs, particularly Asia, Latin America and the Middle ...
 
The Sunday Dispatch
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:07:30 -0700

Dominick Cristofori D'Alessandro, of West Pittston, was the first-place winner in the ninth and 10th-grade division, performing a piece from Robert Schumann's Fantasiestucke. He also won first place in the inaugural Anne Liva young artists competition ...
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