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Clara Schumann Essay

2552 words - 11 pages

For almost half a century, the musical world was dominated by the classical era. This era was defined by control over music and had a heavy focus on form rather than the emotion. However, at the turn of the 19th century, romantic music began to rise in popularity. Romantic art was a reaction to the controlled and form driven classical art. Lasting nearly a century, romantic music rejected the ideas of the classical era and instead encouraged composers to embrace the idea of dramatic, free form, and emotionally driven music. Music was centered around extreme emotions and fantastical stories. This was the world that Clara Wieck (who would later marry the famous composer, Robert Schumann) was ...view middle of the document...

In addition to having a strict practice schedule, Wieck also expected Clara to perform for her friends and family members, in an effort to help Clara overcome her stage fright (Harding, 18).
However, despite his strict teaching methods, Wieck taught all of his pupils that “piano playing must be a pleasure!” (Harding, 11). He wanted to cultivate the joy that was experienced when music was played well. He impressed his beliefs on Clara when teaching her the virtuosic pieces she would later play on in her life that “to dazzle is one thing; to give enjoyment, quite another” (Harding, 15). It seems that Clara took his words to heart. Pamela Susskind, who wrote an article for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians regarding Clara Schumann stated that “[Clara’s] playing was always characterized by a poetic spirit, depth of feeling, a singing tone, and strict adherence to the composers intentions” (Susskind, 828). It is clear that Clara loved music and understood the power that it held over people.
Her love for music in combination with her father’s teaching allowed for Clara to flourish musically. By age 11, Clara had performed several times in Leipzig and would soon begin touring across Europe, most notably in Paris and Berlin (Charlton, 172). When she was 12, Clara had composed enough songs to publish a book of her own compositions, after writing her first composition entitled “swans come gliding” earlier that same year (Harding, 26-27). In the year 1828, Clara gave her first professional performance, playing many songs from memory, along with one of her own compositions (Harding, 21). However, it wasn’t until 1830 when young Clara gave her first solo concert, which prompted her father to organize an extended tour to Paris from September 1831 through April 1832 (Sagrons, 55). In the year 1836, when Clara was 16, she wrote her Concerto with Orchestra in A Minor, with the assistance of one of her father’s students, Robert Schumann, her future husband (Charlton, 172). This piece would premiere on November 9th of that year (Harding, 42). By the time she was 17, Clara was a sought out pianist and was still going on tours across Europe (Harding, 44).
Since she was so young, Clara’s father was in charge of programing the music which Clara would perform. He wanted to see his daughter have a successful musical career and chose pieces with care; Wicke wanted to attract as large of audiences as he could, mostly to help make a profit off of his daughter’s performances. As a result, he programed pieces that would help “establish Clara’s reputation with works her audience would appreciate.” While on tour in 1832, “Clara had plenty of opportunities to become exposed to Parisian musical values” which is eventually what her father would program for her, knowing that it would cause people to flock to see the young pianist perform, as they had for other popular romantic composers (Sagrons, 55). During the romantic period, the piano had grown in...

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