Clara Schumann was born in Leipzig to Marianne and Friedrich Wieck. Her father was well known throughout the city’s illustrious music establishment, where he sold and repaired pianos, as well as taught music lessons. Clara began her music education at a young age. She studied piano with her father, all while traveling throughout Germany to study harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration with the best musicians in the area. She was acclaimed as one of the best pianists in Europe, sometimes called the “Queen of the Piano.”
When she was 21, she married Robert Schumann. She stopped performing to focus on her husband and the eight children they had together. While Clara and Robert were artistic partners in many respects (they studied scores together and championed each other’s works), while he was alive, Robert’s career took precedence. Following his death, however, Clara began to perform in public again, eventually becoming the principal piano teach at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt.
Most of her compositions are for solo piano and are extremely virtuosic. She is also recognized as one of the foremost composers of lieder in the nineteenth century. Later in life, she experimented with larger, classical forms, though she quit composing after Robert died. She also arranged a number of Robert’s works (as well as those of Brahms and William Bennett for piano).
L. Poundie Burstein. “Their Paths, Her Ways: Comparison of Text Settings by Clara Schumann and Other Composers.” Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture 6 (2002).
Nancy B. Reich. Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001.
Nancy B. Reich. “The Diaries of Fanny Hensel and Clara Schumann: A Study in Contrasts.” Nineteenth-Century Music Review 4, no. 2 (Nov. 2007): 21-36.
The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann. Edited by Eva Weissweiler. Translated by Hildegard Fritsch and Ronald L. Crawford. New York: P. Lang, 1994.