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Clara Schumann's extraordinary ...
Clara Schumann's extraordinary story is supplemented with her letters and diary entries, some of which have never before been published in English. Gorgeous portraits and photographs show the members of Clara's famous musical community and Clara herself from age eight to seventy-six.
Describes the life of the German pianist and composer who made her professional debut at age nine and who devoted her life to music and to her family.
Here's the stuff movies are made of: Clara Wieck gave her first piano recital at age nine in Leipzig in 1828. It was the beginning of a lifetime of concert tours across Europe to wild adulation. Her father was autocratic enough to cause her mother to divorce him in an age when women had no rights in a separation, and Clara had to sue him to get permission to marry and to get back some of the fortune she had earned. Clara's husband, composer Robert Schumann, was a pupil of Wieck's: Robert's depression led to his death in an asylum, but he fathered eight children with Clara, and she played and delighted in his music all her life. Goethe praised Clara when she was 12; as an adult she was close to Liszt and Mendelssohn, and a friend and inspiration to the young Brahms. Many illustrations bring life to this account, which is based in part on the life long research and writing on Clara Schumann done by Nancy B. Reich (the author's mother). A full, colorful, biography of a fascinating artist.
August 1999 Booklist, ALA
Although Reich is careful to view the remarkable musician Clara Schumann in her own time, modern-day readers will take her extraordinary story and think about it from a late-twentieth-century perspective. Psychoanalysts will have much to say about her temperamental, demanding father; feminists will speak about a woman who dared to perform in public a week before the birth of her child; family therapists will marvel at a woman whose mentally ill husband left her as the sole provider for her seven surviving children. Reich never lets us forget that Clara Schumann is a talented woman in a world dominated by men, relating how the director of a leading music conservatory in Frankfurt wrote that no woman would ever be employed there, except for Clara: "As for Madame Schumann, I count her as a man." This heavily researched book draws on primary sources, both Clara's own diaries and her voluminous correspondence with her husband (more comfortable writing than speaking to each other, she and her husband maintained a joint diary) and other musicians of the times. Few of us are aware that Clara Schumann's better-known husband, composer Robert Schumann, owes much of his fame to his wife's persistence in including his compositions in her legendary piano performances and to her dogged efforts to make his music part of the public domain. Reich's lucid, quietly passionate biography, liberally illustrated with photographs and reproductions, ensures that Clara Schumann's remarkable life and achievements stand on their own.