Robert Schumann Biography

Robert Schumann - A Biography

Schumann's parents encouraged his interest in music with Piano lessons from the age of 10. However when Schumann was in his teens, his father died and his sister committed suicide. These events left a deep impact on the young musician.

Young Schumann studied law at Leipzig while simultaneously continuing his music studies. One of his music teachers was Friedrich Wieck. Wieck’s daughter  Clara showed a great talent at the piano while she was only 9 years old. Their friendship was to play a big role in Schumann’s life.

Schumann maintained his association with the Wiecks and when Clara was of the right age, he sought to marry her but her father forbade it. Following a legal action, Schumann was able to marry her shortly before her 21st birthday. Clara devoted her life for Robert and brought up their seven children.
Futher tragedy however lay in store for Schumann. A mishap damaged one of his hands and this meant the end of his career as a pianist. Some theories blame a device he used to strengthen his fingers, but other accounts lay the blame on mercury poisoning as a side effect of his syphilis treatment. As this almost meant the end of his career as a pianist Schumann began to concentrate more on composing.
Although Clara was extremely talented in her own right as both pianist and composer, her career became secondary to that of her husband. There is reason to believe that Robert's jealousy was a factor in constraining her career. Nevertheless as well as bringing up their children Clara played a significant role in classical music, through her expert advice and encouragement to other composers.
Although Schumann composed great music, he suffered from mental illness with periods of self-doubt and suicidal depression. Following a suicide attempt he was committed to an asylum where he was to die two years later suffering from the later stages of syphilis.
Schumann’s Works
Robert Schumann was a composer firmly of the Romantic period, and often adopted a free "poetic" style for his works.  During his brief career, he worked as a piano professor at the Leipzig Conservatory  and also later as a conductor. Schumann was in his thirties before he started to compose larger concert works. He completed four symphonies, a well-known piano concerto, some chamber works, songs and song cycles and a good cache of shorter works for piano. Schumann had a great interest in literature, philosophy and the arts.
Schumann's Piano Quintet is highly recommended for the breadth and complexity of its emotions. It was also ground-breaking as the first important work of this kind by a major composer. The instrumentation consists of a normal String Quartet (2 violins, viola and cello) plus a piano. Schubert’s earlier Trout Quintet was for a different combination of instruments which included the double bass.  Later composers who were to follow Schumann's lead include Brahms,Dvorak,Faure,Elgar and Shostakovich
4 Symphonies - including No.1 "Spring" and No.3 "Rhenish"
Piano Concerto - in A Minor
Cello Concerto
Introduction and Allegro

Piano works - lots of these including Carnaval, Papillons, Fantasiestucke, Etude Symphoniques, Kreisleriana, Fantasie in C,, Scenes from Childhood and the Album for the Young
Songs -  these explore  his interest in literature and poetry including Dichterliebe Op. 48 (Song Cycle) and Frauenliebe and Leben Op. 42 (Woman's Life and Love)
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