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John Daverio and Eric Sams

(b Zwickau, Saxony, June 8, 1810; d Endenich, nr Bonn, July 29, 1856). German composer and music critic. While best remembered for his piano music and songs, and some of his symphonic and chamber works, Schumann made significant contributions to all the musical genres of his day and cultivated a number of new ones as well. His dual interest in music and literature led him to develop a historically informed music criticism and a compositional style deeply indebted to literary models. A leading exponent of musical Romanticism, he had a powerful impact on succeeding generations of European composers.

The fifth and last child of August Schumann and Johanna Christiana Schumann (née Schnabel), Robert Schumann was born into a household dominated by literary activity. (There is no evidence for a middle name ‘Alexander’, given in some sources; his birth and death certificates both give ‘Robert Schumann’. Possibly Alexander is a corruption of his teenage pseudonym ‘Skülander’.) His father, an author of chivalric romances and a tireless lexicographer, amassed a small fortune by translating Walter Scott and Byron into German. He was also a book dealer, and Robert, his favourite child, was able to spend many hours poring over the classics of literature....