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date: 12 April 2021

Schumann [née Wieck], Clara (Josephine)free

  • Nancy B. Reich
  • , revised by Natasha Loges

(b Leipzig, Sept 13, 1819; d Frankfurt, May 20, 1896). German pianist, composer, and teacher. One of the foremost pianists and pedagogues of the 19th century, she was also a respected composer and the wife of Robert Schumann.

Clara Schumann Seated at the Piano, undated photograph. (Photo by DEA/A. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images)

Formative Years

Clara Schumann, née Wieck, was the daughter of Mariane [Marianne] and Friedrich Wieck. Her father (1785–1873) studied theology at the University of Wittenberg and settled in Leipzig in about 1814. He established a business selling and hiring out sheet music and pianos, as well as repairing pianos. He also taught the instrument, rapidly acquiring a reputation as an expert in this field. Her mother, Mariane Wieck (née Tromlitz, 1797–1872), was the daughter and granddaughter of musicians: her father, Georg Christian Tromlitz (1765–1825), was the town cantor in Plauen and her grandfather, Johann George Tromlitz, was a well-known flautist, flute maker, and composer. Mariane was the first student in the singing and piano school Friedrich Wieck established in 1815; they were married the following year.

A gifted musician, Mariane Wieck appeared as a soloist both as a soprano and a pianist in the Leipzig Gewandhaus, where she performed John Field’s recently published Second Piano Concerto in a subscription concert. During the eight years of her first marriage, she assisted in her husband’s business, taught piano, and bore five children (two of whom died in infancy). Mariane’s letters reveal a strong-minded personality which clashed with that of her ambitious and controlling husband. The couple separated in 1824 and a divorce was granted within a few months. Mariane had transferred her affections to Adolph Bargiel (1783–1841), a musician whom Friedrich had known for many years. Following the acrimonious separation of her parents, the five-year-old Clara initially returned with her mother to the Tromlitz home in Plauen. However, because the children were legally considered their father’s property, Friedrich gained full custody. Clara was therefore returned to him on September 17, 1824, despite Mariane’s imploring letters to her husband.

According to Clara Wieck’s childhood diary, piano lessons with Friedrich Wieck began the day after she came home. In fact, she had already started having lessons with her mother a few months earlier, learning the technique of playing with a ‘still’ hand, as well as how to accompany simple dances by ear. This emphasis on aural harmonic understanding, rather than exclusively notation-based training, was shared by her father. Her surviving childhood diaries afford unique insights into Friedrich’s holistic pedagogical method, which eschewed repetitive mechanical practice in favour of ear training and a sensitive cultivation of sound and harmony. Still, the reliability of this written record is in question, since the diaries were largely written or dictated by her father on her behalf, sometimes speaking as her (in the first person), and sometimes himself (also in the first person), and only later written by her, at which point the similarity between the father’s and daughter’s tones and values is often striking.

Friedrich Wieck never forgave his wife for leaving him and his bitterness permanently clouded the child Clara’s relationship with her new stepfather. Furthermore, Clara was permitted contact with her mother only while Mariane remained in Leipzig. But after a year, the Bargiels moved to Berlin. Although her relationship with her mother would eventually become very close, Clara’s childhood contact with Mariane in those years was limited to correspondence and occasional visits. Adolph Bargiel’s health declined badly during the late 1830s; when he died in 1841, Mariane financially supported herself and the four children of her second marriage, often with great difficulty. Friedrich married the more docile Clementine Fechner in 1828, resulting in a lasting, happy relationship, although Clara never became close to her stepmother.

While Clara Wieck’s general education was meagre, her musical education was superbly thorough, bespoke, and well-conceived: she studied the piano with Friedrich Wieck, religion and languages (under his supervision), and the violin, theory, harmony, orchestration, counterpoint, fugue, and composition with the best teachers in Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin. She attended every important concert, opera, and drama given in Leipzig. Finally, Friedrich taught her how to conduct the complex business arrangements of a musical career. A genuinely gifted and innovative teacher, Friedrich was one of many parents who sought to capitalize on audiences’ eternal fascination with child prodigies, with undoubtedly successful results. Clara first performed in the Leipzig Gewandhaus on October 28, 1828, shortly after her ninth birthday. As she was participating in a concert of the Austrian pianist Caroline Perthaler (nine years her elder), her own contribution was limited to a set of variations by Friedrich Kalkbrenner on a march from Rossini’s Moses, which she performed with another of her father’s pupils, Emilie Reichold (Kalkbrenner was an immensely successful Paris-based virtuoso). The rest of the programme was the typical mix of styles and genres expected by audiences at the time. It included an overture by Onslow, two ‘Scottish Songs’ by Weber with quartet accompaniment, Kalkbrenner’s Concerto no.2 (played by Perthaler), Schubert’s ‘Die Forelle’ (with piano), and Johann Pixis’s Grosse Concert-Variationen. This was all popular repertoire of the day.

In the same year, Clara Wieck performed at the Leipzig home of Dr Ernst Carus, There, she met another gifted young musician who had been invited to the evening, Robert Schumann, who was nine years older and had begun taking piano lessons from her father that August. Robert was already deeply absorbed in literature and music, rather than the legal studies he was undertaking. In 1830, Robert moved into the Wieck household for about a year to continue his lessons. At the age of 12, Clara gave the first performance of his Papillons.

Clara Wieck’s first solo concert took place on November 8, 1830 in the Gewandhaus. The programme was organized into nine numbers divided into two halves, including overtures, rondos, one of Clara’s own songs, and her Variations on an Original Theme, alongside other variations, a four-hand work, a romance for physharmonica, and an aria. Such miscellany programmes offered her natural opportunities to present her own works in public, something she largely denied herself after her husband’s death, resulting in the almost complete neglect of her own music for over a century. Almost every concert she gave in the 1830s featured one or more of her own works. In the use of bold harmonies, adventurous modulations, and rhythmic freedom, and in the genres she chose, her compositions share the advanced tendencies of their day as reflected in works by other young composers of the new Romantic school such as Robert Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. Her performances also often included improvisation, which was a skill expected of all keyboard performers in the early 19th century. Some examples of her improvisations (referred to as ‘praeludieren’ and ‘fantasieren’ in reviews) were preserved by her at the urging of her daughters but were not published in her lifetime. Beginning with her four Polonaises op.1 (1831), many of her works were published and favourably reviewed.

Friedrich Wieck’s ambitions developed alongside his daughter’s abilities. On February 15, 1832, he organized a tour in Paris. The mixed success of this trip to the ferociously competitive French capital perhaps reveals her father’s practical limitations. Perhaps most importantly, his French was so poor they could not order food in restaurants, let alone cultivate the social connections so essential to Clara’s professional success. His letters reveal a gruelling round of daily visits, networking through family and friends, and countless semi-private performances alongside her official concerts. The influential piano-manufacturers Erard, and Franz Stoepel (founder of the Gazette Musicale) were helpful, but Chopin was not. Shared concerts with established artists were an excellent platform for unknown artists, but the virtuoso violinist Nicolò Paganini, a firm supporter whom she had met three years earlier, was ill on the evening of their planned concert. Unfortunately, it had to be cancelled.

Clara Wieck’s practical needs, such as her concert wardrobe and instruments, were also organized by her father. He insisted on her wearing pure white to emphasize the marketable qualities of youth and girlish purity. Her performances were well attended, but her father was disgusted with the audiences’ poor behaviour; he noted, however, that Parisian audiences expected memorized performances, and immediately expected Clara to comply. At her first soirée, her memory lapsed a little, but she covered it with improvisation. At her second concert, on April 9, Clara’s diary reported that she played entirely from memory. Nevertheless, her concerts did not attract significant interest on the whole, and Friedrich Wieck ruefully reflected that they would have needed six months in Paris, rather than two, in order to establish her reputation properly. With the outbreak of cholera in late March, audience numbers plummeted, leading to a loss of 3000 Francs for the Wiecks. They left on April 15, arriving home on May 1.

Clara Wieck’s earliest recorded composition, the song Der Traum, dates from this year. The documented composition of works to include in her concerts began in earnest the following year, although much more music may have been improvised. Nevertheless, the Caprice en forme de valse op.2, Romance variée op.3 (probably dating from earlier), the Rondo in B minor, the Lied An Alexis, and a chorus Der Doppelgänger date from 1833.

Robert Schumann’s early importance to her is evident from her dedication of her Romance variée op.3 to him on August 9–10 that year. This substantial variation set in C major opens with a grandly decorated peroration, before the presentation of the ‘Romance’, a songlike melody in regular four-bar phrases embellished with some unexpected harmonic touches. The first variation, marked Pesante, opens conventionally, but soon dissolves into a rhapsodic passage which recalls the improvisatory style of C.P.E. Bach. The next variations restore a regular phrase structure, affording a display of different keyboard techniques. However, the boundaries of the variations start to dissolve with a military-style Espressivo e Pesante; alongside this structural innovation, there is an unexpected turn to A♭ major before an elegantly constructed rerouting to C major and a close with the anticipated keyboard pyrotechnics.

For Clara Wieck, composing and performing were synergetic activities, further stimulated by her burgeoning emotional maturity. Her delightful song Walzer appeared in 1834, followed by virtuosic showpieces like her Variations de concert sur la cavatina du Pirate de Bellini op.8 and the Soirées musicales op.6, composed in 1836. In addition, 1835 also saw the completion of an overture for orchestra, and the Quatre pièces caracteristiques op.5, four sharply etched miniatures which display her broad stylistic range. The opening Impromptu: Le sabbat plays virtuosic metric games with off-beat accentuation. The Caprice à la boléros initially seems to prolong the style of the Impromptu, with its shared rapid triple meter, but its own fiendishly virtuosic, whimsical nature soon emerges, replete with lightning-fast repeated notes and metric ingenuity. Its varied rondo form includes a gloriously tender central episode in the tonic major, a key which returns for the triumphant coda. The textures of the following Romance betray her immersion in the music of Chopin, but it is harmonically and metrically adventurous, reaching beyond the opening B major to D major for the central Con anima before returning to B major. However, the return of the opening thematic material is delayed, eventually presented in an unexpected, bittersweet B minor. The 3/4 time signature is constantly concealed by the dissolution of the ends of phrases, allowing successive sections of the piece to unfold organically. The final piece, the Scène fantastique; Ballet des revenants, reveals an affinity with the music of her contemporary Franz Liszt, its dramatic opening tritone heralding a demonic dance which is structured in loose dramatic episodes.

In the same year, Clara Wieck completed her Piano Concerto op.7. She began this work, which was dedicated to Louis Spohr, when she was 13. It is dramatic and innovative, a record of her own virtuosity and independent musical thinking. The dazzling keyboard writing is rooted in the light, finger-based textures she had been taught. The second movement, Romance, presents an exquisitely lyrical melody, distinctively accompanied by a solo cello. The work stands well alongside its contemporaries such as Chopin’s two concertos, and aspects of it can be found in her future husband’s works, as well as those of Johannes Brahms later on. Robert was closely involved in the orchestration of the concerto.

At this time, Clara Wieck learned Robert’s Piano Sonata in F♯ minor op.11, which he dedicated to her, and which she played for her influential contemporary Ignaz Moscheles in October 1835. She also gave he première of her completed Piano Concerto at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in November, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. Robert noted their first kiss in the same month. Earlier that year, her father had expressed dissatisfaction with her playing, possibly in recognition that his control over her was weakening as she matured. Robert, equally stimulated by his contact with this superbly musical virtuoso, was inspired in these years to compose many keyboard collections through which she would make his name famous.

Despite the popular myth of Robert’s and Clara’s intense and single-minded love, both enjoyed other flirtations – and potentially more serious relationships – during Clara’s teenage years. Robert was godfather to Clara’s stepsister Cäcilie, and Ernestine von Fricken, to whom he was briefly engaged, was godmother; there would be others. Clara, too, fell in love more than once. Their relationship before marriage was an emotional rollercoaster, involving doubts and jealousy on both sides. Furthermore, Robert’s mental health was already showing signs of instability. He asked for her hand on February 19, 1836 but was sharply rebuffed by Friedrich. Regardless, she had by now established the loyalty to Robert’s music which would shape her career. This forced music critics to make two quite separate evaluations, of Robert’s initially unpopular and challenging works, and of her performances, a fairly unusual situation in the great age of pianist-composers. Conservative critics like Ludwig Rellstab in Berlin admired her as a pianist but regarded Robert’s Piano Sonata in G minor op.22 as a flop (Vossische Zeitung, February 3, 1840).

Also during her teens, Clara Wieck began developing her social and professional circle, as documented in her extensive surviving correspondence. She had met Felix Mendelssohn a few days after her 16th birthday. Their deep friendship and aesthetic affinity left various traces on her life; she played his piano pieces, she made chamber music with him (they delighted in playing piano duo repertoire at sight, at top speed), and he conducted her in concerts. The following June, she met Chopin and played her op.5 and op.6 for him; while he was not especially helpful to her, she featured his compositions regularly in her programmes. She knew practically every contemporary pianist of note, including Liszt, Sigismund Thalberg (with whom she was sometimes compared), Adolph Henselt, Alexander Dreyschock, and Karl Georg Lickl, as well as Camille Pleyel and Anna Robena Laidlaw (later Thomson), another person to whom Robert was close for several months.

A very different singer-actor friend was the formidable Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, whom Clara had met in 1832 when they performed together in Paris. Given Schröder-Devrient’s irregular personal life, it is perhaps surprising that they remained lifelong friends, bound by their utter commitment to performance. Their warm, effusive letters testify to a true affinity until Schröder-Devrient’s death in 1860.

Crucially, once Clara was 18, she was finally able to renew her relationship with her mother Mariane, who proved a steadfast, loving support until her death in 1872. Other new friends and acquaintances from the late 1830s included Bettina von Arnim, a deeply cultivated woman best known for her relationship with Goethe, but a writer and composer in her own right; the Czech composer Wenzel Johann Tomaschek; the poet Uffo Horn; and the satirical journalist Moritz Gottlieb Saphir. That December, the publisher Anton Diabelli dedicated Schubert’s posthumously published Piano Duo op.140 to her. In 1838, she met Julie Rettich, the actor, who occasionally declaimed in shared concerts, the composer Julie von Webenau (née Baroni-Cavalcabò), and the singers Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Mary Shaw.

Unlike her 1832 Paris tour, Clara Wieck’s trip to Vienna in 1838 was a triumph. As a tribute to a city she always loved, she composed her op.9 Souvenir de Vienne. Her op.10 Scherzo also dates from this time. On the back of her triumphant performances, she was named königliche und kaiserliche Kammervirtuosin, an unheard-of honour for a non-Catholic, female foreigner. On January 7, 1838, the poet Franz Grillparzer dedicated to her the poem ‘Clara Wieck and Beethoven’, in which he compared her to an innocent shepherdess who guilelessly, with white fingers, finds the key to unlock Beethoven’s treasure. Her fame was now established beyond doubt.

Until her 19th year, Friedrich Wieck directed Clara’s education and her career. Though her father was high-handed and despotic, even cruel at times, his role as mentor and manager cannot be minimized and she herself acknowledged it frequently. In a letter of 1894, Clara wrote:

My father had to put up with being called a tyrant; however, I still thank him for it every day; I have him to thank for the freshness that has remained with me in my old age (at least in my art). It was also a blessing for me that he was exceedingly strict, that he reprimanded me when I deserved it and in so doing, prevented me from becoming arrogant from the praise the world showered on me. At times the rebuke was bitter, but it was still good for me! (Litzmann, iii, p.585).

Her mother met Robert Schumann when he visited Berlin in late July 1839 and consented unreservedly to their marriage. Her father flatly refused, resulting in a court battle, which he lost. Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann wed on September 12, 1840, the day before her 21st birthday. Among the gifts Clara received from Robert on September 13, her 21st birthday, was a little book with ‘a very intimate meaning’, a joint marriage diary or Ehetagebuch which was to be written alternately by them both. It provides invaluable insights into their lives, domestic concerns, and musical circle in Leipzig and beyond. Clara expressed misgivings early on about what was expected of her as a traditional wife, namely, to be financially dependent upon and creatively subservient to her husband. Furthermore, Robert was not yet a well-known composer; his reputation rested on his influential but undoubtedly eccentric editorship of the Leipzig-based journal Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. Clara, meanwhile, was already a pianist with an international reputation. She was pulled in many directions in her attempts to be the perfect housewife (and soon mother) while also growing creatively alongside her husband.

Mature Career

After her marriage her compositional style changed; she herself was maturing as an artist and the daily involvement with Robert and their joint studies influenced her work. She wrote fewer character pieces and turned, as he had, to songs; three (Am Strande, Volkslied, and Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen) were presented to her husband on their first Christmas together. These were followed by four songs, three of which were incorporated in a joint collection (published as Robert Schumann’s op.37 and her op.12). All her Lieder, including some until recently unpublished, are expressive and powerful contributions to the genre. Her accompaniment textures are immensely varied and can be virtuosic, such as in Walzer and Loreley, requiring fleet fingers. Her melodies often display great elegance alongside an innate understanding of the voice, such as Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen. Formally, she was innovative, experimenting with phrase lengths and layers of texture. The strophic setting Geheimes Flüstern from op.23 is one of the finest 19th-century Lieder ever composed.

Friendships with figures like the singer and composer Pauline Viardot-Garcia were crucial to Clara Schumann’s professional wellbeing beyond her marriage. Their correspondence lasted from their first meeting in 1838 until August 23, 1894. The first surviving letter from Viardot-Garcia encourages Clara to compose. These brief, friendly letters written during busy tours from hotels and other temporary accommodation enabled them to share professional experiences. In other regards, the two women were very different, not least because of their marriages. Louis Viardot, 20 years older than his gifted wife, was her greatest professional support, ambitious for her, happy to travel with her and even to accommodate her unconventional, long-term relationship with the writer Turgenev. Unlike Viardot-Garcia, who managed motherhood cannily, Clara Schumann bore eight children between 1841 and 1854: Marie (1841–1929), Elise (1843–1928), Julie (1845–72), Emil (1846–7), Ludwig (1848–99), Ferdinand (1849–91), Eugenie (1851–1938), and Felix (1854–79). In early 1848, Viardot-Garcia offered advice to Clara to ‘look after her health’, a veiled hint to curtail her pregnancies, implying that this was also Robert’s responsibility, since composition (apart from dramatic music) was poorly paid and Clara’s performance career supported the family. Clara’s response is revealing, since she staunchly defended composition, as represented by Robert, over performance, which was her realm. Viardot-Garcia, in contrast, felt that the creative ‘Meister’ (the composer) and the creative ‘Künstler’ (the artist) were inseparable and deserved equal honour. In 1854, she supported Clara’s decision to keep Robert in an asylum because he would be best cared for there and the sight of him would cause her grief. Later on, in June 1857, she was willing to participate in Clara’s London concerts as an act of friendship and collegiality.

During December 1841 and January 1842, Clara Schumann composed her Piano Sonata in G minor, a substantial work in four movements, Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo, and Rondo. The Allegro and Scherzo were composed at Christmas as gifts for her husband. In the marriage diary, she expressed her delight that she had manage to compose ‘first and second’ sonata movements; Robert, too, expressed his admiration to her mother. The marriage diary notes the completion of the whole sonata on January 15. After the Adagio and Rondo movements were composed, the movements were given their final ordering. The work remained unpublished until 1991, although the Scherzo movement had appeared as early as 1845 as the final movement of op.15, with slight changes. The sonata is notable for its alternation between elegant lyricism and passionate intensity, as well as its close thematic relationship to her songs. The first movement shares material with the song Er ist gekommen, composed earlier in 1841. The relatively brief Adagio, in E♭ major, opens in a stately triple time with a chorale statement which is repeated in the minor key before dissolving into a richly harmonized melody. The playful, teasing Scherzo, with its uneven phrase lengths, recalls similar movements by Beethoven. The closing Rondo is built around the musical theme shared with the song Sie liebten sich beide, composed in June 1842 and which appeared as part of her Sechs Lieder op.13 in winter 1843–4.

Although Robert Schumann encouraged his wife’s composition and contacted publishers for her, his creative work took priority over hers, and for many years her composing and practising were relegated to hours when her husband would not be disturbed. Despite her obvious gifts, she ceased composing after Robert’s death (apart from a march composed for a friend’s anniversary in 1879). The reasons for this have been a matter of continual speculation but the fact that she had to support her children and, later, her grandchildren by performing and teaching was obviously an important factor. Her opp.18 and 19 are lost; it is very likely that these were for a piano concerto in F minor (1847) and three choral settings of texts by Emanuel Geibel.

Despite her outward dedication, Clara Schumann was not unreservedly positive about her husband’s works. Given the depth of her musical and pianistic training, she was able to offer him insightful suggestions and advice, much as she offered her stepbrother Woldemar Bargiel, Brahms, and other composers throughout her life. Apart from her importance to the enduring success of his piano music, she assisted him in countless other ways during the 16 years of their marriage, such as preparing piano arrangements of orchestral works or playing for rehearsals. She also made arrangements and editions of her husband’s compositions, some of which were published, including the vocal score of the opera Genoveva (1851), Studies for the Pedal-Piano from opp.56 and 58 (1896), a four-hand arrangement of his Piano Quintet op.44 (1858), and transcriptions for piano of a number of songs (1873). Clara also arranged works by William Sterndale Bennett (1841) and three pieces of Brahms (around 1860 and in 1875).

Notably, Clara complained of pains in her fingers, and later in her arms and chest, although these rarely led to cancelled concerts. Nevertheless, those years also brought new joys, for example she enjoyed her renewed closeness to her mother and step-siblings Woldemar, Eugen, Cäcilie, and Clementine. She dispensed gifts, support, and advice to them liberally, but also leaned on her mother for the emotional support that her husband could not always provide.

Robert’s reluctance to travel was a sore trial to his wife, who had been touring since her childhood but was now reluctant to be separated from him and their growing family. In December 1843 Clara and Robert embarked on a concert tour of Russia, very much against his will; however, she had had plans of this sort as early as May 1840. She performed in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), Riga, Mitau (Jelgava), and Dorpat (Tartu), in February, in St Petersburg (March), Moscow (April), and again in St Petersburg before returning to Leipzig on May 24. On this tour, Clara earned a fortune of 6000 thalers in seven concerts. She extended her professional network, was made an honorary member of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Society, and was granted an audience with the imperial family. However, Robert returned depressed and ill from this trip. Indeed, worries about Robert’s mental and physical instability were a recurring theme in Clara’s correspondence.

In late 1844, the Schumann family moved to Dresden, mainly in the hope of reinvigorating Robert’s career, which was stagnating in Leipzig. Friedrich Wieck had recently moved there, although this was unlikely to have been a motivation. Dresden offered possibilities for Robert’s aspirations to compose larger works. During their five years in that city, Clara supported him through various mental and physical illnesses, at great cost to her own concert career. Alongside the birth of four of their children – Julie, Emil (who died aged one), Ludwig, and Ferdinand – she also ran the home, supported the family financially, organized a successful chamber music series, and continued to compose. Her Scherzo op.14 drew even more explicitly on the song Er ist gekommen. Her Quatre pièces fugitives op.15 (including the Scherzo of her sonata as no.4), which her husband recognized were composed ‘more tenderly and musically’ than before (Nauhaus, ed., 1987, vol.2, p.255), were published in 1845 by Breitkopf & Härtel, as were her Drei Präludien und Fugen op.16. Critics in the AmZ and the NZfM in 1846 noted how unusual it was for a ‘feminine mind’ or ‘woman artist’ to engage with the world of counterpoint.

Clara Schumann’s innovative Piano Trio in G minor op.17 was composed in 1846 and published the following year, again attracting admiring but heavily gendered reviews. Within the widely used four movement-form Allegro–Scherzo–Andante–Allegretto, the work demonstrates her command of sonata form and polyphonic techniques. Musical responsibility is shared evenly between the three players, resulting in a balanced, spacious texture and revealing Clara Schumann’s confidence in writing for strings. While the themes demonstrate stylistic variety from lyrical to dramatic, the overall mood is of an autumnal melancholy. The work employs great harmonic subtlety, from passing local harmonizations to unexpected modulations. The lyrical opening subject of the first movement is set over a restless accompaniment; the second subject is in the expected B♭ minor but soon introduces additional harmonic uncertainty. The tumultuous, surging development modulates freely and confidently, drawing mainly on the first subject. The return to the exposition is particularly beautiful, the second part of the dominant preparation attaining a dreamlike, timeless quality before the decisive return of the first subject. The rustic Scherzo, with its charming Scotch snap, leads to a gently syncopated Trio. The Andante, in a luminous G major, is one of the great slow chamber music movements of the century, with a finely crafted melody presented initially by the piano; a more energetic, turbulent central section recalls the mood of the first movement. The closing Allegretto, in sonata form, is distinguished by a dramatic fughetta which signals a development and brings back a variant of the first subject of the Trio’s first movement, weaving the work together.

Clara Schumann’s Dresden circle expanded to include the brothers Franz and Friedrich Schubert and the composer Ferdinand Hiller; the latter was a support to her throughout her life. She also met the artists Julius Hübner and Eduard Bendemann. Later on, after Robert’s death, she returned to Dresden for concerts, first in 1859 with the baritone singer Julius Stockhausen and her stepsister Marie Wieck (who lived in that city), then in 1860 with Joseph Joachim, again in 1871 with her friends, the alto Amalie Joachim and Julie von Asten, and finally, in 1878 in a concert dedicated to the Gustav Adolph Women’s Association.

Unlike her first visit to Vienna, the Schumanns’ return to that city in winter 1846–7 (alongside places like Brno, Prague, Berlin, and Dresden) was far less successful. The performance of Schumann’s First Symphony and Piano Concerto at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde on January 1, 1847 was not positively received, but the participation of their friend the singer Jenny Lind ensured the success of Clara Schumann’s concert on January 10, 1847. In November 1847, the couple suffered the tragic loss of Felix Mendelssohn; for Clara Schumann, he was not only a valuable colleague, but a profound musical inspiration and a beloved duet partner.

On May 3, 1849, fighting broke out in Dresden after the king of Saxony dissolved the parliament. In order to avoid Robert being drafted, Clara fled with him and their daughter Marie to the Maxen estate of their friends, the Serres. Clara, who was pregnant at the time, returned to Dresden on May 7 to fetch Elise, Julie, and Ludwig, who had been left with a maid; she returned with Robert to collect their belongings and they rested in Bad Kreischa until June 12. Their son Ferdinand was born on July 16.

At the end of 1850, Robert’s appointment as Music Director of the city of Düsseldorf prompted a move to that city. They were initially fêted with public serenades by town musicians, a concert devoted to Robert Schumann’s music, a celebratory dinner, and a ball. It took four moves before the family finally settled in an apartment at Bilkerstrasse 1032 (today no.15) which was both affordable and large enough to accommodate Robert’s composition and Clara’s practice. With some stability regained, her own composition briefly flourished again, although always in competition with the demands of the family and the duty to support Robert professionally.

During the Düsseldorf years, Clara Schumann gave successful concerts in the surrounding areas and gathered a new circle of students, colleagues, and friends. Robert suffered from increasingly poor health as well as an inability to manage the demands of his post, leading the family to consider yet another move. However, in other ways, the years 1853–4 were centrally important for Clara. She established lifelong friendships and musical partnerships with figures like the violinist Joseph Joachim, the composer Johannes Brahms, and the singer Julius Stockhausen. The Schumanns met Brahms in autumn 1853, shortly before Robert’s hospitalization the following February, and he became a devoted friend. Joachim and Stockhausen understood first-hand her life as a performer, teacher, and parent, while sharing a near-reverential attitude to her husband’s music. She met Stockhausen in the summer of 1854 and discovered in him a true champion of the German Lied, who, with her, could present her husband’s songs to the public. Apart from their frequent performances in London, Hamburg, and other major European cities, he gave the first complete performances of several of her husband’s song cycles, often with her accompanying or contributing in some other way. He was a particularly staunch champion of Schumann’s Faust-Szenen during the 1860s. In the 1880s he joined Clara as a fellow professor in Frankfurt, although he soon founded an independent singing school in that city. Joachim, similarly, shared her musical values and was a close colleague and friend.

In February 1854 Robert attempted suicide and was taken, at his own request, to the sanatorium of Dr Franz Richarz in Endenich near Bonn. Clara was, once again, pregnant; their son Felix was born that June. On medical advice, Clara was forbidden to see her husband until two days before his death. She was entirely reliant on sometimes conflicting reports from the doctor, Joachim, Brahms, and other friends like Bettina von Arnim. Following Robert’s death in July 1856, she moved the family for the last time in Düsseldorf, to an apartment on Poststraße 1315. Friends like Brahms and Joachim rallied round her; Brahms, in particular, offered musical, practical, and emotional support, and lived with the family. They were closest to a romantic involvement at this point. Although a more serious liaison would have been impractical and probably undesirable to both, they remained lifelong friends and colleagues. Clara Schumann helped advance his career by playing his works when he was young and unknown, and bringing her considerable network and experience to his aid. They helped one another with decisions on family and career throughout their lives.

While Clara Schumann’s life revolved around music, she was sensitive to poetry and other arts. Her taste heavily overlapped with that of her husband and many other contemporaries in this regard. For instance, her favoured song poets, Heinrich Heine, Emanuel Geibel, and Friedrich Rückert, were all important contemporaries whose verses enjoyed tremendous popularity with composers. She also spoke the language of flowers to her husband, preparing a Blumenbuch für Robert in autumn 1854 when he was in Endenich. She maintained this until his death on July 29, 1856. She prepared another one for Brahms between 1857 and 1859, called the Berliner Blumentagebuch; it is not clear whether he ever saw it.

The marriage of Robert and Clara Schumann was a rare partnership, expressed in countless musical activities and works. Nevertheless, she also poured tremendous energy into maintaining a wider personal and professional circle, mainly through correspondence and visits while on her travels. These included non-musical friends such as the historical painter Edward Bendemann, godfather to her deceased child Emil, and more particularly his wife Lida, née Schadow, whose father was the distinguished Johann Gottfried Schadow, and who sang in Robert Schumann’s choir in Dresden. Edward’s sister Pauline was married to the painter Julius Hübner, and the three couples were close. Clara often visited the Bendemanns after her husband’s death. Friendship of a different sort was offered by the Deichmann family, Julie and her banker husband Wilhelm Adolph, whose beautiful villa in Rolandshöhe on the Rhine hosted many musicians, and Adolph’s brother Wilhelm Ludwig Deichmann and his wife Elizabeth (née Schaaffhausen), at whose home Brahms stayed before his memorable meeting with the Schumanns in 1853.

Clara Schumann’s friends also included colleagues who understood the demands of her life. Chief among these were Joachim, Stockhausen, and Brahms, of course, but there were various others, like the conductors Hermann Levi and Ernst Rudorff. While the Brahms-Schumann triangle has dominated her story, in fact Joachim was her most frequent recital partner, someone who truly shared her artistic vision, but also a practical-minded colleague with an excellent understanding of concert life (and England, which Brahms lacked). Their common love of Beethoven attracted critical and popular praise and helped to fix that repertoire in the canon. Joachim was also faithful to Robert Schumann’s memory. Despite his acrimonious divorce in 1884 from the singer Amalie Joachim, née Schneeweiss, the latter was also a faithful friend and concert partner, somewhat hampered by pregnancies after her marriage in 1863, and later on, ill-health. Clara gave various concerts with Amalie Joachim after the divorce, which helped the latter to earn her living.

Despite many claims on her time, Clara Schumann had a gift for friendship. Female friends like the singer Livia Frege (née Gerhardt), a student of Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, provided essential emotional and practical support. Her home in that city was an important social centre for the Schumanns, and following Robert’s death, a hospitable place for Clara Schumann on her travels. Another lifelong friend was Rosalie Leser, who met the Schumanns in 1850, and was Eugenie Schumann’s godmother. She was a tremendous help to Clara around the time of Robert’s death, and visited her in Lichtenthal in the summers in the 1860s. They remained friends until their deaths, three days apart. Also important were the sisters Emilie (Mila) and Elise List, who settled in Leipzig in 1833. Clara took English lessons with Emily as a teenager; the family later moved to Paris and welcomed Clara when she made her solo trip there in 1839. Elise List had a fine soprano voice which attracted the attention of Robert, Franz Liszt, and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, but was prevented by nerves and family duties from pursuing a career. A correspondence of over 250 letters between the three women survives, revealing much about Clara’s daily life. Friends like these, and others, also shared the responsibility of childcare, housing the Schumann children at different times; these include Emma Preußer, who was married to a businessman, and met the Schumanns in 1843; at the time of Robert’s’s death, the daughters Marie and Elise were at the Preußers’ in Lockwitz.

On October 1, 1857, the family left Düsseldorf for Berlin. The city not only offered excellent performance opportunities through the Singakademie, but Clara Schumann also had close connections there, namely Joachim and her mother. Her longstanding friend Elisabeth Werner looked after the household and children so that she was able to give concerts, teach, and earn. Touring generally occupied Clara Schumann throughout the concert season, i.e. October to May. As a result, the seven children were variously cared for by a range of relatives and friends, or accommodated in boarding schools, with only occasional gatherings in Berlin (the eldest, Marie, usually accompanied her mother and acted as her musical and personal assistant).

By now, Clara Schumann was regarded as a solemn ‘priestess’ of the art. Aged 37, dressed in black, largely unsmiling and performing music increasingly regarded as ‘serious’, she devoted herself to her husband’s memory and music, and supporting her family. During her long years of widowhood, she took on more tasks related to her husband and his work: she edited the complete edition of his music (with the help of Johannes Brahms, Joseph Joachim, and other trusted friends), prepared an instructive edition of his piano compositions, arranged and transcribed a number of his piano and vocal works, and edited a volume of his Jugendbriefe. Much of her time and energy was spent managing her own career, including handling the minutiae of concert organization.

A summary of Clara Schumann’s formidable concert schedule would begin with her first public performance in 1828 in the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and end there in 1889. Her public concerts are richly documented by the 1299 programmes preserved at the Schumann-Haus in Zwickau, although additional performances can be traced in the press, and she gave countless undocumented private performances. In the 1850s and 60s, she made successful trips across Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, all facilitated by the burgeoning rail network. Clara Schumann’s most frequent destination was Great Britain, which she visited 19 times, starting with a first tour from April 18, to July 6, 1856. A particularly gruelling round was from January to April 1867, her fifth tour, which included Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Bath, Clifton, Torquay, Liverpool, Bradford, Birmingham, Rugby, and London. She made her final visit to England in 1888. Through her concert tours, she made Robert Schumann’s work known to the musical world. Almost without exception, she played at the première of each work he wrote for or with piano; and almost all his orchestral works were introduced in concerts in which she was the solo artist.

Over the course of Clara Schumann’s life, her concerts became shorter and fewer works were offered so that greater attention could be given to individual pieces. She was eventually known for her attention to and respect for the composer’s intentions and the spirit of the work. In her hands, the piano recital became an event in which public attention was focussed on the composer rather than the virtuoso performer. The bravura works by such popular composers of the day as Johann Peter Pixis, Henri Herz, Frédéric Kalkbrenner, and Liszt were dropped from her programmes, especially after her marriage, when she began to present programmes of works from the 18th and 19th centuries. Innovations of hers included the performance of works by J.S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Beethoven, and Schubert to audiences accustomed to contemporary music and virtuosic variations on popular and operatic melodies. Critics and audiences were almost uniformly respectful and admiring, as is indicated by this review from London near the end of her career:

We think we are correct in saying that no pianist ever before retained so powerful a hold upon the public mind for so long a period … Madame Schumann’s character, intellect and training saved her from becoming a mere partisan: though for years she has been acknowledged unequal as an exponent of Schumann’s music, yet one always hears of her wonderful interpretations of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. By her modesty, prudence and talents she has gradually achieved a veritable triumph (MT, April 1, 1884).

During the 1860s, there was no central family home; however, a summer stay in 1862 at the charming resort of Baden-Baden persuaded her to buy a home in nearby Lichtenthal. Pauline Viardot-Garcia was also an inducement, with her loyal friendship, outstanding musical salon, and excellent connections. The two eldest Schumann girls organized the move the following summer, allowing the entire family some time together, as well as a steady stream of visitors, both family and friends: Clara’s longtime friend Rosalie Leser from Düsseldorf, her stepsisters Clementine and Cäcilie Bargiel in 1866, and Brahms. Her musical circle also visited the family, including Joachim, Stockhausen, Anton Rubinstein, Alyos Schmitt, Theodor Kirchner, and Hermann Levi. Baden-Baden furthermore was a good place to give concerts, with its elite, cosmopolitan population.

The composer Theodor Kirchner is a much-overlooked figure in Clara Schumann’s life. Four years younger than Clara, he met Robert Schumann in 1837. Mendelssohn admired his talent and he became the first registered student of the newly-founded Leipzig Conservatory in 1843, under Mendelssohn’s direction. In 1843, he moved to Winterthur in Switzerland, where Clara Schumann would later visit him. It is extremely likely that the two enjoyed a discreet romantic relationship in 1863, when he visited her in Lichtenthal. However, he was a confirmed gambler, an unreliable man, and certainly not someone she could consider seriously as a partner. The relationship was soon back on a more formal footing, although she admired his compositions enough to include them regularly in her programmes, often in combination with her husband’s pieces.

Clara Schumann’s friendship with the Mannheim-born Hermann Levi had a different trajectory because of his eventual passion for the music of Wagner, which she decidedly did not share. They met in Baden-Baden in 1863, resulting in an initially warm friendship and professional relationship; he conducted her in performances of her husband’s Piano Concerto. By the mid-70s, the kinship between the two had faded, although they remained in touch until her death.

By 1873, the Schumann children had all grown up, although the responsibilities had multiplied because of their illnesses and/or financial dependence on her. Clara Schumann returned to Berlin, drawing on her close connection to the Bargiels. Her need for extensive, exhausting tours, indeed her ability to sustain them, was declining, not least because of worsening physical ailments. She settled with Marie and Eugenie at In den Zelten 11, opposite Joachim, with whom she gave concerts.

In 1878 Clara Schumann was appointed by Joachim Raff as principal teacher of piano at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, the first woman to teach there. She demanded, and received, excellent professional terms for her teaching, including the freedom to maintain her performing career. Her reputation attracted students from all over the world, especially England. It is possible that her presence stimulated many changes which benefited women musicians, for example Raff’s decision to organize composition classes for women, a rarity at the time. She gave lessons in her home at Myliusstraße 32. Her daughters Marie and Eugenie undertook the basic training of her students, so that she could concentrate on details of interpretation. By all accounts, she was a rather strict teacher, but also one whose generosity knew no bounds.

Clara Schumann left a substantial and enduring pedagogical legacy, shaping the repertoire and approach to the instrument across Europe and beyond. This is evident in the works she edited which were not by her husband; these included an edition of Czerny’s Fingerübungen und Studien op.500 (1881) and a selection of Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas (1884). Playing the piano (along with singing) was a heavily gendered activity, with large numbers of female students taking lessons in the conservatoires mushrooming across Europe. Many abandoned the idea of a career after marriage; some, like Emilie Steffens, became friends. But Clara Schumann drew on her extensive network to ensure that her strongest pupils had the best professional chances, transcending the decorous, ‘drawing-room’ playing considered most suitable to women. Among her female pupils were Emma Engelmann, Fanny Davies, Ilona Eibenschütz, Nathalie Janotha, Adelina de Lara, Louise Adolpha le Beau, Emilie Steffens, Mathilde Verne, and her sister Mary Wurm. She also taught Carl Friedberg, Franklin Taylor, and Leonard Borwick. Fanny Davies was regarded as her artistic successor in England, championing similar repertoire but also advocating strongly for new music as her teacher had done. Adelina de Lara, a child prodigy, performed further afield, in Australia, the USA, and South Africa. Carl Friedberg and Nanette Falk-Auerbach took her legacy to the United States as teachers and performers, while Franklin Taylor was a founding piano teacher at the Royal College of Music and wrote the first article on Clara Schumann in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; Mathilde Verne also taught at the RCM.

Due to increasing deafness and rheumatism, Clara Schumann stopped teaching in 1892. She made her last public appearance as a pianist in 1891 but continued to teach until her death at the age of 76. On May 20, 1896 she died from a second stroke and was buried at the Old Cemetery in Bonn, next to her husband.

Clara Schumann’s documentary legacy presents considerable challenges to historians. Her daughter Marie, whose income was devastated by inflation, had to sell the correspondence between her parents to the Preußischer Kulturbesitz in 1921. The long delay before the preparation of an edition of the Schumanns’ correspondence was doubtless due to a combination of hindrances. These were both practical, not least the difficulties of the Schumanns’ handwriting, and ideological, namely a hesitation to explore private communications between husband and wife. Notably, Robert Schumann was in favour of publishing the correspondence of their betrothal (their letters in 1839 alone fill over 800 pages), because of their considerable literary merit. The family friend and lithographer Julius Allgeyer was meant to write the first biography of Clara Schumann, drawing on the correspondence Marie Schumann had inherited, but died before the first volume was completed. The first biography of Clara Schumann was then completed by the music-loving literary scholar Berthold Litzmann, in three volumes, based on diaries and letters. However, he was only allowed access to these crucial documents for a limited period of time, in Marie Schumann’s Interlaken home. Much documentation has been destroyed, but the emergence of a thorough critical edition of the surviving correspondence and diaries has considerably enriched scholarship about Clara Schumann. Since the 1960s, there has been a resurgence of interest in her life, works, and significance. Interest in her compositions revived in the 1970s when the first recordings began to appear. Since that time, the discography of her works has grown to over 100 recordings, editions of published and previously unpublished pieces have appeared, and broadcasts and concert performances of her music continue to proliferate.


Collected Editions

Clara Schumann: Lieder und Gesänge für eine Stimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte von Robert und Clara Schumann: Mit einem Anhange von zwei- und dreistimmigen Liedern (Leipzig, 1872)

Clara Schumann: Pianoforte-Werke zu zwei Händen (Leipzig, 1879) [CS]

Clara Schumann: Romantische Klaviermusik, i: Drei Präludien und Fugen op.16, Variationen op.20, Romanze g-moll op.21, no.3; ii: Romance variée op.3, Andante con sentimento, Trois Romances op.11, Scherzo op.14, Quatre pièces fugitives op.15, Romanze in A minor op.21 no.1, Romanze in B minor, ed. F. Goebels, i (Heidelberg, 1967); ii (Heidelberg, 1976) [G i, ii]

Clara Wieck Schumann: Selected Piano Music, introduction by P. Susskind (New York, 1979) [reprints of first publications, Leipzig and Vienna, 1836–46, of op.5, op.6, op.8, op.10, op.11 and op.16] [S]

Clara Wieck-Schumann: Ausgewählte Klavierwerke, ed. J. Klassen (Munich, 1987) [K]

Clara Schumann: Sämtliche Lieder, ed. J. Draheim and B. Höft, i (Wiesbaden, 1990) [op.12, op.13, op.23]; ii (Wiesbaden, 1992) [unpubd and individually pubd songs] [D i, ii]

Clara Schumann: Seven Songs, ed. K. Norderval (Bryn Mawr, PA, 1993) [N]

Clara Wieck: Frühe Klavierwerke, ed. G. Nauhaus and J. Draheim (Hofheim, 1997) [ND]

‘Clara Schumann: Three Fugues on Themes of Sebastian Bach, Praeludium, und Fuga in Fis moll, Praeludien’, ed. V.W. Goertzen in S. Glickman and M.F. Schleifer, eds.: Women Composers: Music Through the Ages, vi: Composers Born 1800–1899, Keyboard Music (New York, 1999) [WC]

Clara Schumann: Piano Music, selected and with an introduction by N.B. Reich (New York, 2000)

Clara Schumann: Preludes, Exercises, and Fugues for piano, ed. V.W. Goertzen (Bryn Mawr, PA, 2001)

Clara Schumann: the Complete Works for Piano, ed. H. Kawashima (Tokyo, 2014) [KA]

Clara Schumann: Arrangements for Solo Piano, ed. J. Kregor, Recent Researches in the Music of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries, 56 (Middleton, 2012) [works of R. Schumann, W.S. Bennett, and J. Brahms] [JK]

Clara Wieck/Clara Schumann: Klavierwerke (Originale und Bearbeitungen), ed. J. Draheim (Beeskow, 2019) [J]

printed works published in Leipzig unless otherwise stated

MSS in D-Bsb, Dl, and Zsch

Orchestral and chamber



Piano Concerto, a, orch/qnt acc., 1833–6 (1837), ed. J. Klassen (Wiesbaden, 1990); arr. for 2 pf, ed. K. Smith (Bryn Mawr, PA, 1993); arr. for 2 pf, ed. V. Erber (Wiesbaden, 1993); new ed. of the version with str qnt, ed. J. Draheim and G. Nauhaus, (1996)


Piano Trio, g, 1846 (1847); (Munich, 1972/R); (Winterthur, 1989)

Piano Concerto, f, 1847, sketch D-Zsch; completed and orchd as Konzertsatz, ed. J. De Beenhouwer and G. Nauhaus (Wiesbaden, 1994)


Drei Romanzen, vn, pf, D♭, g, B♭, 1853 (1856) (Wiesbaden, 1983/R; ed. J. Draheim, repr. 2006)



Quatre polonaises, E♭, C, D, C, 1829ff? (1831), ed. B. Hierholzer (Berlin, 1987); ed. J. Draheim (Leipzig, 1996)

Etüde, A♭, c1831, Bsb, ed. D. (Klein-Winternheim 2010)


Caprices en forme de valse, 1831–2 (Paris and Leipzig, 1832); ed. J. Draheim and G. Nauhaus (1996)


Romance variée, C, 1831 (1833); ed. J. Draheim and G. Nauhaus (1996), G ii


Valses romantiques, 1835 (1835); ed. J. Draheim and G. Nauhaus (1996)


Quatre pièces caractéristiques, 1834–6 (1836); ed. J. Draheim and G. Nauhaus (1996), S, K, G ii [no.3]: 1. Impromptu: Le sabbat; 2. Caprice à la boléros; 3. Romance; 4. Scène fantastique; Ballet des revenants; no.1 as Hexentanz (Vienna, 1838), nos.1–4 with op.6 as Soirées musicales (1838; 1996); new edition of no.1 also pubd as ‘Hexentanz für das Piano-Forte’ (Vienna, 1838); no.3 also pubd as ‘Andante con sentimento’ (Vienna, 1838)


Soirées musicales, 1834–6 (1836, 1838; Leipzig, 1996), S, K [4 pieces]: Toccatina, Ballade, Nocturne, Polonaise, 2 Mazurkas; reissued with op.5 (1838)


Variations de concert sur la cavatine du Pirate de Bellini, 1837 (Vienna, 1837), S; pubd in a different version (Paris, 1839); ed. T. Synofzik (Cologne 2019)


Souvenir de Vienne, Impromptu, G, 1838 (Vienna, 1838)


Scherzo, d, 1838 (1838), S, K

Albumblatt über ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’, 1838, J


Trois romances, e♭, g, A♭, 1838–9 (Vienna, 1840), G ii, S, K; no.2 also pubd. as Andante und Allegro, NZM, 6 (1839), suppl.7; new edition of this version, J


Deuxième scherzo, c, 1841 (1845), G ii

Sonate, g, 1841–2: Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo, Rondo [orig. titled Sonatine; Scherzo identical with op.15 no.4]; ed. G. Nauhaus (Wiesbaden, 1991), J


Quatre pièces fugitives, F, a, D, G, c1844, no. 4, 1841 (1845), G ii; ed. J. Draheim (Wiesbaden, 1994)

Impromptu, E, c1844, in Album du Gaulois (Paris, 1885), J


Drei Präludien und Fugen, g, B♭, d, 1845 (1845), G i, S; ed. B. Harbach (Pullman, 1994), ed. S. Glickman (Bryn Mawr, PA, 1997)

Three 4-part fugues on Themes of J.S. Bach, E♭, E, g, 1845, WC

Praeludium und Fuga, f♯, 1845, WC

Präludium, f, 1845 [nearly identical to the Praeludium und Fuga, f♯], J


Variationen für das Pianoforte über ein Thema von Robert Schumann, f♯, 1853 (1854); (Leipzig, 1996), G i, K

Romanze, a, 1853, in Girl’s Own Paper (London, 1891), K, J


Drei Romanzen, a, F, g, 1853–5 (1855; 1996), K, G i [no.1], G ii [no.3]; ed. J. Draheim (Wiesbaden, 1983/R)

Romanze, b, 1856, G ii; Clara Schumann: 3 kleine Klavierstücke ed. R. Marciano (Vienna, 1979)

Marsch, E♭, 1879, for 4 hands, ed. G. Nauhaus (Wiesbaden, 1996); version for two hands, 1879, KA; Backes (Körborn, 2016); orchd. J.O. Grimm, 1888, first public perf., Frankfurt, Oct 1888, ed. J. Draheim (Karlsruhe, 2007)

11 Präludien, including 4 to piano pieces by R. Schumann (‘Des Abends’ op.12 no.1, ‘Aufschwung’ op.12 no.2, 3rd movt. Piano Sonata op.14, ‘Schlummerlied’ op.124 no.16), written out in 1895, WC, ed. V.W. Goertzen (Bryn Mawr, PA, 2001)


Der Abendstern (poet unknown), c1830, D ii

Der Wanderer, 1831 (J. Kerner), first pubd under the name F. Wieck (1875), D ii

Der Wanderer in der Sägemühle (J. Kerner), 1832, first pubd under the name F. Wieck (1875), D ii

Walzer (J. Lyser), 1833 (1834), first pubd in Zehn Lieder eines wandernden Malers (1834), D ii

Am Strande (R. Burns, trans. W. Gerhard), 1840, NZM, 8 (1841), suppl.14, D ii

Volkslied (H. Heine), 1840, D ii, N

Die gute Nacht, die ich dir sage (F. Rückert), 1841, D ii, N


3 songs (F. Rückert), 1841 (1841), D i: Er ist gekommen, Liebst du um Schönheit, Warum willst du and’re fragen [pubd as nos. 2, 4, 11 of 12 Gedichte aus Friedrich Rückert’s ‘Liebesfrühling’ für Gesang und Pianoforte von Robert und Clara Schumann; other nos. = R. Schumann, op.37]


Sechs Lieder mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, 1840–43 (1844), D i: Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen (Heine) [also in D ii as Ihr Bildnis], Sie liebten sich beide (Heine) [also in D ii], Liebeszauber (E. Geibel), Der Mond kommt still gegangen (Geibel), Ich hab’ in deinem Auge (Rückert), Die stille Lotosblume (Geibel)

Loreley (Heine), 1843, D ii, N

O weh des Scheidens, das er tat (Rückert), 1843, D ii, N

O Thou my Star (F. Serre, trans. L. Wray), 1846 (London, 1848) [= trans. of Mein Stern, D ii, N]

Beim Abschied (Serre), 1846, D ii, N

Drei gemischte Chöre (Geibel), SATB, 1848: Abendfeyer in Venedig, Vorwärts, Gondoliera; ed. G. Nauhaus (Wiesbaden, 1989)


Sechs Lieder aus Jucunde (H. Rollett), 1853 (1856), D i: Was weinst du Blümlein, An einem lichten Morgen, Geheimes Flüstern, Auf einem grünen Hügel, Das ist ein Tag, O Lust, O Lust

Das Veilchen (J.W. von Goethe), 1853, Bsb, D ii, N

Doubtful: Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär, canon , 3vv


2 for Beethoven: Pf Conc., G, op.58, 1846 (1870)

1 for Beethoven: Pf Conc., c, op.37, 1868 (1870)

2 for Mozart: Pf Conc., d, k466, n.d. (1891)


Arr. 2 hands: W.S. Bennett, Andante cantabile from ‘3 Diversions’ for 4 hands op.17 no. 2, 1841?, JK

Arr. 4 hands: R. Schumann, Sym. no.1, B♭, 1842 (1842)

Arr. 2 hands vs: R. Schumann, ‘Das Paradies und die Peri’ op.50 (1844)

Arr. 4 hands: R. Schumann, Ouvertüre, Scherzo, und Finale op.52 (Ouvertüre and Scherzo), 1845 (1847)

Arr. 4 hands, with R. Schumann: R. Schumann, Sym. no.2 op.61, C, 1848 (1849)

Arr. 2 hands vs: R. Schumann, ‘Genoveva’ op.81, 1850 (1851), J

Arr. 2 hands vs: R. Schumann, ‘Vom Pagen und der Königstochter’ op.140, 1852 (Winterthur, 1857)

Arr. 4 hands, after J. Brahms: R. Schumann, Pf Qnt, E♭, 1857 (1858)

Arr. 2 hands: J. Brahms, Menuett I/II, G, Serenade op.11, c1860? JK

Arr. 2 hands: J. Brahms, Serenade op.16, c1860?, JK

Arr. 2 hands: 30 Mélodies de R. Schumann transcrites pour Piano, 1873 (Paris, 1873); Berlin, 1886/R 1991

Arr. 2 hands: R. Schumann, Lieder op.24 no.5, op.25 no.11, op.35 nos.1, 3, 5, 10, op.45 no.2, op.53 no.2, op.64 no.1, op.125 no.2, op.142 no.3, 1873, JK

Arr. 2 hands: R. Schumann, Lieder op.25 no.3, op.25 no.24, op.39 no.5, 1873, J

Arr. 2 hands: J. Brahms, ‘Thema von J.B.’, beginning of 4th movt (Poco Allegretto con Variazioni) from Str Qt op.67, c1875, J

Arr. 2 hands: R. Schumann, 4 Studies for the Pedal Pf op.56 nos.2, 4, 5, and 6, 1895 (London, 1896), no.2 J

Arr. 2 hands: R. Schumann, 3 Sketches for the Pedal Pf op.58 nos.1, 3, and 4, 1895 (London, 1896), no.1 J


all lost

cited in C. Schumann’s diary, programmes and Albumblätter


Scherzo, 1830–31

Ov., ?1833

orch version of op.4


3 Walzer vn, glock, pf, 1829


Schwäne kommen gezogen (4-pt song) 1830

Der Traum (C.A. Tiedge), 1831; Alte Heimath (J. Kerner), 1831; others listed as Lied/Lieder on programmes from 1830

Piano solo

Walzer für Klavier, für J. Strobel, 1828

Variationen über ein Originalthema, 1830

Variationen über ein Tyrolerlied, 1830

Phantasie-Variationen über ein Wieck Romanze, 1830–31

Scherzo aus C, 1831

Scherzo, F, 1832

Variationen über ‘An Alexis’, 1832

Rondo über ein Thema von Reissiger, b, 1833

Capriccio (Presto, c-Moll), 1835 (incipit in D-Hsa)

other works mentioned, incl. chorales, variations, scherzos, impromptus, n.d.


A. Letters, Diaries, and Memoirs
  • B. Litzmann: Schumann: ein Künstlerleben nach Tagebüchern und Briefen, i (Leipzig, 1902, 8/1925), ii (1905, 7/1925), iii (1908, 6/1923); Eng. trans., abridged (London, 1913/R); Eng. trans. G. Hadow, with new introduction (New York, 1979)
  • J. Joachim and A. Moser, eds.: Briefe von und an Joseph Joachim (Berlin, 1911–13; Eng. trans., abridged, 1914/R)
  • F. May: The Girlhood of Clara Schumann: Clara Wieck and her Time (London, 1912)
  • E. Schumann: Erinnerungen (Stuttgart, 1925); Eng. trans. as The Memoirs of Eugenie Schumann (London, 1927/R) and The Schumanns and Johannes Brahms: the Memoirs of Eugenie Schumann (New York, 1927)
  • B. Litzmann, ed.: Clara Schumann–Johannes Brahms Briefe aus den Jahren 1853–1896 (Leipzig, 1927; Eng. trans., abridged, 1927/R)
  • K. Walch-Schumann, ed.: Friedrich Wieck: Briefe aus den Jahren 1830–1838 (Cologne, 1968)
  • Robert Schumann: Tagebücher, i (1827–1838), ed. G. Eismann (Leipzig, 1971, 2/1987); ii: (1836–1854), ed. G. Nauhaus (Leipzig, 1987); iii: Haushaltbücher (1837–1847, 1847–1847), ed. G. Nauhaus (Leipzig, 1982) [Eng. trans. P. Ostwald as The Marriage Diaries of Robert & Clara Schumann (Boston, 1993)]
  • E. Weissweiler, ed.: Clara und Robert Schumann Briefwechsel: kritische Gesamtausgabe, 1832–1838, 3 vols. (Basle, 1984, 1987, 2001); Eng. trans. H. Fritsch and R.L. Crawford as The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann (New York, 1994)
  • C. Schumann, ed. D.-R. Moser: Mein liebes Julchen Briefe: Briefe von Clara Schumann an ihre Enkeltochter Julie Schumann mit Auszüugen aus Julie Schumann’s Tagebüchern und einem Bericht über ihre Begegnung mit Johannes Brahms (Munich, 1990)
  • E. Schumann: Clara’s Kinder (Cologne, 1995) [with afterword by E. Weissweiler and poetry by F. Schumann]
  • B. Borchard, ‘“Ma chère petite Clara—Pauline de mon coeur”, Clara Schumann et Pauline Viardot, une amitié d’artistes franco-allemande’, Cahiers Ivan Tourguéniev, Pauline Viardot, Maria Malibran, 20 (1996), 127–43
  • R. Hofmann, ed.: Clara Schumanns Briefe an Theodor Kirchner (Tutzing, 1996)
  • E. Wendler, ed.: ‘Das band der ewigen Liebe’: Clara Schumanns Briefwechsel mit Emilie und Elise List (Stuttgart, 1996)
  • M. Steegman, ed.: ‘… dass Gott mir ein talent geschenkt’, Clara Schumanns Briefe an Hermann Härtel und Richard und Helene Schöne (Zürich, 1997)
  • E. Rieger, ed.: ‘Mit 1000 Küssen Deine Fillu’: Briefe de Sängerin Marie Fillunger an Eugenie Schumann 1875–93 (Cologne, 2002)
  • R. Brunner, ed.: Alltag und Künstlertum: Clara Schumann und ihre Dresdner Freundinnen Marie von Lindemann und Emilie Steffens: Erinnerungen und Briefe, nach den Quellen (Sinzig, 2005)
  • G. Nauhaus and I. Bodsch, eds.: Robert und Clara Schumann Ehetagebücher 1840–1844 (Bonn, 2007)
  • E. Schmiedel and J. Draheim, eds.: Eine Musikerfamilie im 19. Jahrhundert: Marianne Bargiel, Clara Schumann, Woldemar Bargiel in Briefen und Dokumenten (Wiesenfelden, 2007)
  • T. Synofzik and M. Heinemann, eds.: Schumann-Briefedition ed. (Cologne, 2009–)
  • G. Nauhaus and N. Reich, eds.: Clara Schumann Jugendtagebücher 1827–1840 (Hildesheim, 2019)
B. Biographical Studies
  • J. Chissell: Clara Schumann: a Dedicated Spirit (London, 1983)
  • N.B. Reich: Clara Schumann: the Artist and the Woman (Ithaca, NY, 1985, 2/2001)
  • J. Klassen: Clara Wieck-Schumann: die Virtuosin als Komponistin (Kassel, 1990)
  • B. Borchard: Clara Schumann: ihr Leben (Frankfurt, 1991/R)
  • E. Weissweiler: Clara Schumann: eine Biographie (Hamburg, 1991)
  • V. Beci: Die andere Clara Schumann (Düsseldorf, 1997)
  • C. Lépront: Clara Schumann; la vie à quatre mains (Paris, 1998)
  • H.J. Köhler: Robert und Clara Schumann: ein Lebensbogen (Altenburg, 2006)
  • J. Tibbetts: Schumann: a Chorus of Voices (Milwaukee, 2010)
  • B. Borchard: Clara Schumann: Musik als Lebensform (Hildesheim, 2019)
C. General Studies and Essays
  • N. Reich: ‘Women Composers: a Question of Class’, Musicology and Difference, ed. R. Solie: (Berkeley, 1993), 125–48
  • B.R. Appel and others, eds.: Clara und Robert Schumann: zeitgenössische Porträts (Düsseldorf, 1994)
  • S. Avins: ‘Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann’, Johannes Brahms: Life and Letters (Oxford, 1997), 757–68
  • P. Ackermann and H. Schneider, eds.: Clara Schumann, Komponistin, Interpretin, Unternehmerin, Ikone (Hildesheim, 1999)
  • J.M. Nauhaus, ed.: Musikalische Welten: Clara und Robert Schumanns Verbindungen zu Braunschweig (Sinzig, 2010)
D. Exhibition Catalogues and Iconography
  • I. Bodsch and G. Nauhaus, eds.: Clara Schumann 1819–1896: Katalog zur Ausstellung (Bonn, 1996)
  • T. Synofzik and J. Voigt: Aus Clara Schumanns Photoalben (Chemnitz, 2006)
  • A.L. Prince: ‘(Re)Considering the Priestess: Clara Schumann, Historiography, and the Visual’, Women and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture, 21 (2017), 107–40
E. Composition
  • M. Wilson Kimber: ‘From the Concert Hall to the Salon: the Piano Music of Clara Wieck Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’, Nineteenth-Century Piano Music, ed. R.L. Todd (New York and London, 1990), 316–55
  • P.-A. Koch: Clara Wieck-Schumann (1819–1896): Kompositionen. Eine Zusammenstellung der Werke, Literatur und Schallplatten (Frankfurt, 1991)
  • C. Macdonald: ‘Critical Perception and the Woman Composer: the Early Reception of Piano Concertos by Clara Wieck Schumann and Amy Beach’, Current Musicology, 4 (1993), 24–55
  • I. Fellinger: ‘Clara Wieck Schumann als Komponistin im Spiegel zeitgenössischer Musikkritik’, Traditionen-Neuansätze: Für Amalie Abert (1906–1996), ed. K. Hortschansky (Tutzing, 1997), 273–80
  • S.D. Lindeman: ‘Clara Wieck: Piano Concerto in A minor, op.7’, Structural Novelty and Tradition in the Early Romantic Piano Concerto (Stuyvesant, NY, 1999), 129–40
  • M. Sumner Lott: ‘Romantic Medievalism in Piano Romances by Robert & Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms’, American Brahms Society Newsletter, 33/1 (Spring 2015), 1–8
F. Pianism
  • F. Wieck: Clavier und Gesang: Didaktisches und Polemisches (Leipzig, 1853); Eng. trans. as Piano and Singing: Didactical and Polemical for Professionals and Amateurs (Aberdeen, 1875); as Piano and Song: How to Teach, How to Learn, and How to Form a Judgment of Musical Performances (Boston, 1875)
  • A. de Lara: ‘Clara Schumann’s Teaching’, ML, 26 (1945), 143–7
  • P. Pettler: ‘Clara Schumann’s Recitals, 1832–50’, 19CM, 4 (1980), 70–6
  • P. Ostwald: ‘Florestan, Eusebius, Clara, and Schumann’s Right Hand’, 19CM, 4, (1980–81), 17–31
  • C. De Vries: Die Pianistin Clara Wieck-Schumann: Interpretation im Spannungsfeld von Tradition und Individualität (Mainz, 1996)
  • E. Ostleitner and U. Simek, eds.: Ich fahre in mein liebes Wien: Clara Schumann—Fakten, Bilder, Projektionen (Vienna, 1996)
  • V.W. Goertzen: ‘Setting the Stage: Clara Schumann’s Preludes’, In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation, ed. B. Nettl (Chicago, 1998), 237–60
  • D. Ferris: ‘Public Performance and Private Understanding: Clara Wieck’s Concerts in Berlin’, JAMS, 56 (Summer 2003), 351–408
  • R. Stinson: ‘Clara Schumann’s Bach Book: a Neglected Document of the Bach Revival’, Bach: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, 39 (2008), 1–66
  • J. Klassen: Clara Schumann: Musik und Öffentlichkeit (Cologne, 2009)
  • R. Kopiez, A.C. Lehmann, and J. Klassen: ‘Clara Schumann’s Collection of Playbills: a Historiometric Analysis of Life-Span Development, Mobility, and Repertoire Canonization’, Poetics, 37 (2009), 50–73
  • V.W. Goertzen: ‘Clara Wieck Schumann’s Improvisations and her “Mosaics” of Small Forms’, Beyond Notes: Improvisation in Western Music in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, ed. R. Rasch (Turnhout, 2011), 153–62
  • T. Synofzik: ‘Domenico Scarlatti—Clara Schumann—Johannes Brahms: Neues zu einer Dreiecksbeziehung’, Brahms Studien, 17, eds. B. Borchard and K. Schüssler-Bach (Tutzing, 2014), 11−28
  • A. Babbe: Clara Schumann und ihre Schülerinnen am Hoch’schen Konservatorium in Frankfurt (Frankfurt, 2015)
  • A. Stefaniak: ‘Clara Schumann’s Interiorities and the Cutting Edge of Popular Pianism’, JAMS, 70/3 (2017), 697–765
  • G. Nauhaus: ‘Clara Schumann in Copenhagen’, Schumann-Journal, 7 (Spring 2018), 128–42
  • A. Stefaniak: ‘Clara Schumann and the Imagined Revelation of Musical Works’, ML, 99 (2018), 194–223
  • I. Bodsch and others, eds.: On Tour: Clara Schumann als Konzertvirtuosin auf den Bühnen Europas (Bonn, 2019)
  • I. Bodsch, M. Wendt, and K. Ozawa, eds.: Die Schülerin—Die Meisterin: Ilona Eibenschütz und Clara Schumann: Zeitzeugnisse einer Frauenkarriere um 1900 (Bonn, 2019)
G. Other
  • N.B. Reich and A. Burton: ‘Clara Schumann: Old Sources, New Readings’, MQ, 70 (1984), 332–54
  • B. Borchard: Robert Schumann und Clara Wieck: Bedingungen künstlerischer Arbeit in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Beltz, 1985)
  • A. Burton: ‘A Psychoanalyst’s View of Clara Schumann’, Psychoanalytic Explorations in Music (Madison, CT, 1990), 97–113
  • R. Hofmann and H. Schmidt, eds.: Das Berliner Blumentagebuch der Clara Schumann, 1857–1859 (Wiesbaden, 1991)
  • Clara und Robert Schumann in Baden-Baden und Carlsruhe (Baden-Baden, 1994)
  • W. Bettler: Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann und ihre Töchter Marie und Eugenie in Interlaken (Matten bei Interlaken, 1994)
  • B. Borchard: ‘Botschafter der reinen Kunst—vom Virtuosen zum Interpreten: Joseph Joachim und Clara Schumann’, Basler Jahrbuch für historische Musikpraxis, 20 (1997), 95–113
  • G. Nauhaus, B. Appel, U. Bär, and M. Wendt, eds: Schumanniana Nova: Festschrift Gerd Nauhaus zum 60. Geburtstag (Sinzig, 2002)
  • W. Seibold: Robert und Clara Schumann in ihren Beziehungen zu Franz Liszt: 1 & 2 (Frankfurt, 2005)
  • H. Ottenburg and T. Synofzik, eds.: Robert und Clara Schumann in Dresden: Biographische, kompositionsgeschichtliche und soziokulturelle Aspekte (Cologne, 2010)

This article supersedes an older article.

F.-J. Fétis: Biographie universelle des musiciens
G. Grove, ed.: A Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Allgemeine deutsche Biographie (Leipzig, 1875-1912)
Journal of the American Musicological Society
The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers
Zwickau, Robert-Schumann-Haus
Musical Quarterly
G. Schilling: Encyclopädie der gesammten musikalischen Wissenschaften, oder Universal-Lexicon der Tonkunst
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart
Music & Letters
19th Century Music