Clara Wieck Schumann
In her own words....
"Composing gives me great pleasure . . . there is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound."
"A woman must not wish to composethere never was one able to do it." These are not the words of an unsympathetic male detractor, but of Clara Schumann herself. That a woman of her abilities and talents would say this speaks volumes about the difficulties facing women composers in the nineteenth century. In fact, there were many women "able to do it" both before and during Schumann's lifetime. Their efforts, however, were usually met with resistance, and women often took the criticism of the male-dominated culture to heart. This is a shame, for we likely have been deprived of many significant contributions by these women.
Clara Schumann, like many other women composers, was the product of a musical family. Her mother had been a successful performer, and her father, Friedrich Wieck, was a famous teacher of piano. It was he who encouraged her in performance and composition, and at an early age she made a name for herself as a concert pianist. In 1840, she married one of her father's students, Robert Schumann (much against her father's wishes). The result was both a happy marriage (marred, however, by Robert's problems with depression) and a fruitful artistic partnership. Clara composed variations on themes by Robert and vice versa, and together they created a cycle of song settings of the poet Friedrich Rückert (her Opus 12, his Opus 37). After Robert's death in 1856, Clara continued an active concert career while supporting a family of eight, and was a champion of the music of Johannes Brahms, with whom she maintained a lifelong relationship.
Clara Schumann's music is typical for the early Romantic Era. Much of her music was written to be performed by her (piano concertos and pieces for solo piano), but she also wrote a number of songs and a well-respected trio (Opus 17). Most of her piano music consists of small single-movement works (preludes, various dances and the like). Her music shows a distinct lyrical quality and a solid though conservative approach to form.
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|Toccatina, from Soirées musicales||02:06|
|Notturno, from Soirées musicales
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- Solo piano music, including dances, caprices, romances, scherzos (including Op. 10, 1838), impromptus, character pieces (Soirées musicales, Op. 6, 1835–36; Quatre pièces fugitives, Op. 15, 1845), variations (including one set on a theme by Robert Schumann, 1854), and cadenzas for Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos
- 1 piano concerto with orchestra or quintet (1837)
- Chamber music, including 1 piano trio (1846) and 3 romances for violin and piano (1855–56)
- Lieder, with texts by Burns, Rückert, Heine, and other poets
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