Clara Wieck Schumann (1819–1896) was the daughter of Friedrich Wieck who may have been instrumental in his daughter’s success, encouraging her as a virtuosic pianist from an early age. Her first public performance was at the age of nine and she was recognized as a leading pianist in Europe by the age of twenty. Unlike many performers at the time, Clara focused more on being true to the composer’s work rather than simply giving a showy performance. Touring throughout Europe as a child prodigy, Clara had many admirers including Goethe, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Paganini, and her future husband, Robert Schumann.
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Robert Schumann met Clara when he began taking piano lessons from her father. Early on, she was actually the better known of the two! They were eventually married despite objections from Clara’s father. Amazingly, the talented Clara was able to continue to perform and compose while managing her eight children. After Robert passed away, she quit composing and focused on teaching and performing, promoting her late husband’s work.
Next time we’ll look at one of Clara’s own compositions that she likely performed publicly!