Working both as a composer and a journalist, Robert Schumann was a total rock star. Therefore, he’s our Composer of the Week!
b. June 8, 1810 – Zwickau, Germany
d. July 29, 1856 – Endenich, Germany
The son of a publisher, Robert Schumann showed early talents in both music and literature. While studying at the University of Leipzig, Schumann fell in love with his piano teacher’s daughter Clara, a young pianist in training for a life onstage. Clara’s father opposed the relationship and impending marriage, but after being taken to court by Schumann, he was forced to give in. The couple went on to have one of the most famous marriages in music history.
Many of Schumann’s works corresponded with characters and scenes from stories and poems. This added an element of complexity to his compositions. He also wrote compositions from the perspectives of his alter egos, Floristan and Eusebius. I guess he knew how to keep life interesting!
Additionally, Schumann aided in forming the musical tastes of his time via his own publication, Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.
Where to start:
Schumann was known for his ability to write for piano. Start with some of his solo piano works or piano-based chamber music, and from there, move on to his symphonies.
Lang Lang plays Schumann’s Abegg Variations:
Leonard Bernstein conducts the first movement of Schumann’s first symphony: