Robert Schumann, the German Chopin

Robert Schumann (1810-1856), the quintessential German Romantic composer, is best known for his piano music and his lieder. Romantic tragedy was not only his domain as a musician, it was also a presence in his all too brief life.

The composer was born and took his first steps in the world of music in what is today the Schumann House in Zwickau. Even as a young man he had to bury his dream of making a career as a pianist – because of stiffness in his hand – and he was compelled to concentrate on composition and writing about music. The journal he founded, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, still exists today.

In Leipzig Schumann married the love of his life, the pianist Clara Wieck – and in so doing forfeited his friendship with her father Friedrich Wieck. The Schumann House in Leipzig, where the young couple lived from 1840 to 1844 and where Schumann wrote his Spring Symphony, is now a museum, events venue and school.

Unable to find a suitable position in his beloved Saxony, in 1850 Schumann moved to the Rhineland with his family and became music director in Düsseldorf. Before long, however, his health problems worsened and in 1854, after a suicide attempt, he was admitted to a psychiatric clinic, today the Schumann House in Bonn. Robert and his widow Clara are buried in the Old Cemetery in Bonn.

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