Schumann Robert

The Beautiful Music Of Schumann

Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau, Germany on June 8, 1810 to Friedrich August Schumann and Johanna Christiane Schnabel. His father was a book seller by profession. Robert Schumann was his fifth and youngest child. He began to compose when he was seven. At school, Schumann showed a keen interest in music and literature .Schumann was impressed with the works of the greek tragedians, Schiller,Goethe and Lord Byron.  Another powerful influence on Schumann was Johann Paul Richter.

In 1828 he left school, and  met Heinrich Heine in Munich.Schumann went to Leipzig to study law. During this time he was enchanted by the musical works of Moscheles, Schubert and Mendelssohn. At Leipzig,Schumann hardly ever went to any lectures. In a letter to his mother , Schumann pleaded a lack of “talent in Latin.” Schumann was much more interested in music and literature.

Schumann’s mother arranged for his piano lessons from Friedrich Wieck. Wieck agreed to take Schumann under his wings provided that Schumann take daily piano lessons and study music theory in detail as well. Schumann proceeded to stay at the Wieck residence and developed his piano technique to a virtuoso standards. He also fell in love with Wieck’s daughter Clara. Clara was a brilliant pianist and often accompanied her father on concert tours. Years later, when Robert asked Friedrich Wieck for Clara’s hand in marriage, Friedrich refused. Robert was able to marry Clara only after obtaining court orders.

Schumann started to compose short piano pieces and songs.  He often practised the piano for seven hours a day. However, he started to have problems with his fingers. It has often been said that he hurt his hands because he made something to stretch his fingers, but it is possible that this was due to mercury poisoning as he was under treatmet for syphilis. The permanent disability to his right hand  virtually snuffed out his career as a concert pianist. Schumann spent the rest of his life composing and writing about music.He started a journal called Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music).

Schumann suffered from manic depression in which both manic and depressive episodes occur. The tragic and happy moods can be heard side by side in his works especially Carnaval. On the other hand, some of  the compositions in his work like “Album for the Young” are popular among very young  piano novices and learners. . Other piano works include Scenes from Childhood, Kreisleriana and the popular Album for the Young which has some quite easy pieces like Soldier’s March and the famous Träumerei (Dreaming).

During his life time Schumann not only had to struggle with his medical problems, but also the fame of his pianist wife Clara. He also found concer tours stressfull. His nervous breakdown in February 1854 had a complex background: a hypomanic state, some marital problems, and a stressful journey with musical appearances. Schumann had often thought of trying to kill himself. Later that month he threw himself into the river Rhine. He was rescued and admittted to an asylum where he spent the last two years of his life. He died on 29 July 1856.
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