September 13 – Clara Schumann

Posted on September 13, 2014

Clara Wieck (born in Germany on this date in 1819) was a child prodigy and musician who was taught piano, violin, singing, music theory, harmony, composition, and counterpoint by her father. She took an hour-long lesson every day, and she practiced two hours a day.

So of course she got really good. I mean, anyone would, right?

Wieck performed in a sort of piano recital at age 8, and there she met another gifted young musician, Robert Schumann, age 17. Schumann ended up taking lessons from Mr. Wieck as well.

Wieck went on a concert tour to Paris and other European cities when she was just 11 years old. (Her dad went with her.) By the time she was 18, she was performing for sell-out crowds and earning rave reviews.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, when she was 18 she married Schumann!

When Clara Schumann was young, her father chose the music she would perform, and he chose popular music that was quite showy; when she was older and making her own musical selections, she began to play works by the new Romantic composers: Chopin, Mendelssohn, and her husband! She also played music from the past, but instead of the showy “pop” music, she played difficult pieces by people like Bach and Mozart and Beethoven.

Apparently Wieck-Schumann didn't feel confident with her own compositions and, once she was older, she rarely played them; however, nowadays her compositions are performed and enjoyed by many. Before she lost confidence at around age 36, Wieck-Schumann wrote songs, piano pieces, choral pieces, and pieces for violin and piano.

Clara Schumann was one of the first pianists to perform from memory (rather than having sheet music, and of course having the distraction of someone turning the pages of the sheet music), and she shaped the future of classical music because performing from memory became the standard.

She also promoted her husband's music, causing it to be much more known and played and respected, no doubt, than if she hadn't.

She also raised eight children and, later, some of her grandchildren. She is famous for walking through the city of Dresden in 1849, when there was an uprising, defying a group of armed men, rescuing her children, and marching right back out of the city again, crossing the front lines once again.

Google has honored Clara Schumann with a Doodle.
Clara Schumann appeared on
German money...before the euro!
She also taught music, and her choice of emphasizing expression over technique spread through her students and is important to many music teachers today.

She also was the main breadwinner for her family because of her teaching and her concerts.

I mean, seriously, Clara Wieck-Schumann sounds like a pretty amazing woman!

Also on this date:

Librarians' Day in Argentina

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