Mar 16, 2023
Clara Schumann, without a doubt, was one of the greatest pianists of all time.
Schumann’s playing didn’t just leave critics and audiences in raptures, it also left other composers amazed that their music could sound so beautiful. Liszt called her the Priestess of the Piano, Chopin adored her playing, and Mendelssohn brought her over and over again to Leipzig to play concerts with the Gewandhaus orchestra. She toured practically her entire life while raising a family of 8 children, and taking care of her husband Robert, who dealt with a series of mental illnesses that ended in his tragic and untimely death.
Simply put, Clara Schumann was a legend in her time. She was the first pianist to perform entire concertos and recital programs by memory, the first pianist to devote her work to both contemporary composers AND composers of the past, bringing Bach onto the recital stage. And on and on and on.
But today I’m not going to focusing too much on Clara Schumann the pianist. I won’t be mentioning Brahms or Robert Schumann all that much either, except in biographical details. That’s because the focus of the show today is on Clara Schumann’s compositions. She only published 23 pieces during her life, a result of many factors, but what we do have of her work shows a brilliant and underrated compositional talent.
So today I’ll tell you about Clara Schumann’s turbulent and fascinating life story, and then take you through a few of her most wonderful pieces, including the piano trio and the 3 romances for violin and piano. We’ll also talk about why her body of work is so small, and why what we have of her music is so precious. Join us!