Clara Wieck Schumann


Clara was one of the most celebrated performers of her time. Clara’s parents were Friedrich Wieck, a music teacher, and Marianne Tromlitz Wieck Bargiel, a soprano and student of Wieck. She studied with her father, Frederick Wieck, and made her concert debut at the age of 9.  She studied at the Leipzig Conservatory, and quickly developed into a great virtuoso pianist, and she toured selected European cities when she was just 12 years old.

When Clara was 12 years old, a young man named Robert Schumann began living in her parents’ home. Robert was a student of Clara’s father.  In 1837, Robert asked to marry her, but for three years, Clara’s father refused permission. Then, Clara and Robert sued and a judge allowed them to be married on September 12th, 1840. 

At first, the marriage was a happy one and led to an excellent artistic partnership. Robert respected Clara’s talent and highly valued her opinion on his work. They first lived in Leipzig where they both taught in the Conservatory there; they moved to Dresden in 1844, to Düsseldorf in 1850. They had 8 children together. Unfortunately, in 1856 Clara’s husband attempted suicide.  She put him in a mental institution where he died soon after. Clara then moved to Berlin in 1857, where she performed, taught, and edited Robert’s works and letters.  She continued to give piano concerts, compose for the piano, and from 1878 to 1892 taught at the High Conservatory in Frankfurt. 

During an age when women were more or less expected to stay at home, Clara Schumann stand out as an example of a women who knew what she wanted to do and did it.  

Annotated Bibliography

Anon.  "Clara Wieck-Schumann," (October 15, 2003) <> (22 December, 2005).
Good brief biography with links to music.  

Harding, Bertita. Concerto: A Glowing Story of Clara Schumann. New York : Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1961. 
The life of Clara Schumann is represented in extraordinary detail in Harding’s book. Some information is rather questionable, as you can see from the title; this “glowing” representation of Clara is a bit stretched in parts presenting Clara more as a Saint than an actual human being. Harding includes incredible photographs throughout the book which one might find hard to find elsewhere. Photographs of Clara, Robert, their Children, Brahms, and the most intriguing are those of their homes. There are photographs of Robert’s study, Clara’s piano where she composed several pieces, etc.

Evers, Renate. “Clara Wieck Schumann Pianist and Composer”. Rutgers, NJ : Rutger’s University, 1997. < (22 December, 2005).
Evers presents Clara’s life in a timeline form, including concert tours and the creations of her piano works. A page of photographs of Clara and those in her life are available on the site, along with captions of their importance and when the photograph was taken. Music by Clara is available for download are available on this site as well. Dates for events relating Clara Schumann are posted and several useful links are provided in various detail and length.

Reich, Nancy B. Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman. Ithaca , NY: Cornell University Press, 1985.       
Outstanding and comprehensive biography of Clara Schumann with an abundance of details and some unpublished material. Part one describes the life of Clara Schumann, and part two throws light on several themes from her life, such as Clara Schumann as composer and editor, as student and teacher, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, etc.. Reich includes a comprehensive catalogue of works and performance statistics. Nancy B. Reich was awarded the 1996 Robert Schumann Prize by the city of Zwickau on June 8. This is the first time the yearly prize was awarded to a Clara Schumann scholar and also the first time the prize was presented to an American woman. The book has received an award from ASCAP and has been translated into several languages, including German, Japanese and Chinese.       

Schneider, Elaine. “Robert and Clara Schumann”. 2002. < (22 December, 2005).
A very well written description of Clara’s life. Schneider does an excellent job of providing relevant information without much personal interpretation or critique. Schneider focuses on the relationship between Robert and Clara in both marriage and as artists. The affect of Robert’s depression on the marriage and insight into the reasons for Mr. Wieck’s opposition to their marriage are discussed.

Schumann, Ferdinand. Reminiscences of Clara Schumann from the diary of her Grandson Ferdinand Schumann. 2nd ed. New York : Musical Scope Pub., 1973. 
This booklet contains excerpts from the diary of Ferdinand Schumann, the grandson of Clara Schumann. The diary was written during the time he lived with his grandmother in Frankfurt from 1894 - 96. Ferdinand Schumann studied piano and composition with his grandmother during this period and became an accomplished performer, composer, and musical historian.

Smith, Kenneth David. “Clara ’96 Clara Schumann”. Beaver Falls , PA : Geneva College—Beaver Falls, 2002. Available from < (22 December, 2005). 
This site is provided by a group pushing for the spread of Clara’s music. They are a nonprofit organization who is trying to bring more attention to Clara and her compositions. They provide numerous links to which you are able to download her music. The provide links to sites dedicated to studying women in music and their influence. Overall it’s not a useful site for someone looking for biographical information, but mainly for those who are looking to study the impact Clara’s work has had on many musicians today.       


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Original Written by Claire Sheehan, 2005
Last Revision: 22 December 2005
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