Introduction To The Composer | Clara Schumann (Clara Wieck)
Clara Schumann was born on September 13th, 1819 in Leipzig, Germany to an ambitious and dedicated music teacher named Friedrich Wieck, who had created his own method of piano teaching.
By age 15, Clara had become known in the musical world as a brilliant piano prodigy. She composed her own pieces to play at concerts, including waltzes, opera aria variations, and a piano concerto.
Her incredible musical skills caught the attention of fellow musician Robert Schumann who began to pursue her romantically when he was 24 and she was 15. Frederich Weick was strongly objected to their romance, however in 1840, one day prior to Clara’s 21st birthday, the two celebrated a court approved marriage, much to the dismay of Clara’s father.
The musical couple was described as being ahead of their time, as both husband and wife tried to juggle family life with successful careers. Clara’s musical success proved to be too difficult for Robert to bear at times, and their relationship was strained as a result.
She and Robert had eight children, and Clara had to shoulder much of the childrearing burdens as Robert’s severe mental health issues eventually led to him to being committed to an asylum.
Clara was an extraordinary woman, not only in her musical contributions and performance ability, but also in her capacity to face the many hardships in her life. She became the sole breadwinner after Robert’s hospitalization and worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of her family, including an incident where she had to rescue her children during the 1848 revolution in Leipzig.
A protege of Robert, Johannes Brahms became a confidante and colleague to Clara after Robert’s death. The two were even rumored to have a romantic relationship.
Unfortunately, Clara had to give up composing to work more steadily in teaching and performing in an effort to insure financial security for herself and eight children.
She passed away 40 years after her husband Robert on May 20th, 1896 in Frankfurt, Germany at the age of 76.
Johannes Brahms was born on May 7th 1833 in Hamburg, Germany.
His father Johann Jakob, a double bass player in the Hamburg city orchestra, taught Johannes piano from the age of seven. With additional tutoring by Otto Cassel and Eduard Marxsen, Brahms’ talent on the piano developed quickly. He earned money in his youth by performing at local taverns. At the age of 20, he travelled to Dusseldorf to meet Robert and Clara Schumann.