her first public appearance at the age of 10 and first published
compositions by 12, Clara Wieck (1819-1896), later Schumann, was a
child prodigy trained and literally pushed on the spotlights by the
strong will of her father, Frederic Wieck also the piano teacher of
Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, all admired the talents of this young
pianist who traveled and appeared all through Europe.
Her marriage with Robert Schumann, in 1840, after years of hard
struggling to convince her father and her giving birth to eight
children did slow down her concertist activities. Nevertheless, she
kept performing and composing and even touring extensively through
Denmark, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Vienna, England and more.
The hard conditions of those travels, the illness and death of her
husband in 1856 broke only partially this energetic and strong lady who
did find in the faithful and tender friendship of Johannes Brahms the
will to survive.
Her last decades were dedicated to the compilation and publishing of
the entire work of her late husband, she worked on this ambitious
project together with Brahms between 1881 and 1893.
One of the greatest virtuosos of her time, a privileged interpreter of
Robert Schumann's music, she was an artist of great sensitivity. Strong
with a perfect technique, she performed a large repertoire from Bach to
Brahms and Goethe said she was playing like "six men together".
Clara Wieck - Schumann, did not have an overwhelming ambition as a
composer. Yet many of her works do show besides an amazing grace and
sensitivity, an accomplished compositional technique, a perfect mastery
of the language and finely crafted ecriture.
She did not compose only for the piano or for herself. A sizable amount
of vocal pieces, number of lieder, an important number of chamber
works, Trio with piano op.17, Two Romances for violin and piano op.22
and a piano concerto op.7 as well as a Concertino for piano, testify
the diversity of her composing talents.
After her marriage to Robert Schumann, her activities as a composer
slowed down. However, she wrote then her most significant and beautiful
pieces. Among them the Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann op.20,
theme from the Bunte Blatter that Brahms too worked as a set of
variations and her Romances op.21, are probably her most expressive
Specially those late works prove that Clara Schumann was indeed a
composer of great talent with a genuine originality as well.
Quatre pièces caractéristiques op.5
her early compositions the "Quatre pieces caracteristiques" op.5,
published around 1835, have fantastic and suggestive titles: Impromptu:
Le Sabbat; Caprice `a la Boléro; Romance; Le Ballet des Revenants.
Around the same years, "Variations de concert sur la Cavatine du
'Pirate' de Bellini" is a paraphrase a la Liszt which showcased her
amazing virtuosity on many concerts.
Soirées musicales op.6
her marriage to Robert Schumann she published the "Soirees musicales"
op.6 where the influence of Mendelssohn, she admired enormously and
Chopin can be seen. Also, from the same period is an Impromptu named
"Plaisir de Vienne".
Scherzo Opus 10
Scherzo Opus 10. "Scherzo con passione" : Presto
A brilliant Scherzo in D minor, very creative and finely crafted,
together with (three) Romances op.11 testify to her mastery of the
craft and inventiveness.
This D minor Scherzo was published in Paris by Schoenenberger. The
title page reads: "Scherzo for the piano, par Clara Wieck, pianiste de
S.M. l'Empereur d'Autriche", "pianist of His Majesty, the Emperor of
Austria is the official title she has been given since 1838. The piece
is a moto perpetuo with a dauntingly beautiful, melodic middle section.
Trois Romances Opus 11
gracious pieces were also published in Paris by S. Richault with the
full title: "Trois Romances sans paroles pour le piano, oeuvre 11, par
Clara Schumann, née Wieck, pianiste de S.M.I.R l'Empeureur d'Autriche".
The first Romance in G-flat is based on a theme full of sensitivity
supported by voluptuous arpeggios at the left hand. Even though a
breakthrough inventiveness can be hardly spotted, the technique is
brilliant and the ecriture is graciously decorative.
The second one, Andante in four in G minor is a slow and expressive
page where syncopations and off-beats prevail with a central part in
The third Romance, in three beats in A-flat major is Moderato. She
employs almost permanently harmonic pedal tones.
The CD also includes:
Variationen Opus 20
Drei Romanzen Opus 21
Romanze ohne Opuszahl