German romantic composer, born in Zwickau on 8 June 1810, died near Bonn on 29 July 1856. He was married to the great pianist Clara Wieck, who played his music in concerts; they encouraged the young Johannes Brahms, and Brahms comforted Clara, whom he loved, while Robert spent much of his later life mad.

He wrote music for a wide variety of instruments, though piano predominated: the piano pieces including Kreisleriana, Davidsbündlertänze, Humoreske, Albumblätter, and Fantasiestücke. He wrote four symphonies, and song cycles including Dichterliebe, Liederkreise, and Frauenliebe und Leben.

He developed a literary taste from his father, a bookseller, and much of his work is imbued with overt romanticism. He early on played well at the piano, and sought lessons with Weber, who was too busy, and then with Friedrich Wieck. He studied law at Leipzig and Heidelberg but neglected it. In 1832 he ended his potential career as a pianist witb a device he had invented for exercising the fingers... and his potential career as an inventor too, let's be frank... so devoted himself to what he was best at, composition.

Robert met Wieck's daughter Clara in 1836. He was 26 and she was 17, but already a pianist of genius. Wieck strongly opposed the match, and they took legal action against him in 1839, and they married on 12 November 1840, the day before she came of age.

He attempted suicide in 1833, suffered breakdowns in 1843 and 1844, and in February 1854, hearing hellish music, threw himself into the Rhine. Upon his rescue by fishermen he asked to be put in an asylum, and it was here, at Endenich near Bonn, that he ended his days. His production of opus numbers can be correlated with his mental life: he was prodigiously productive in 1840 and in 1849-1851, and composed almost nothing in the years of his mental crises. Mental illness, depression, and suicide ran in Schumann's family.

Robert Schumann went mad, eventually. He had feared it all his life -- through writing all sorts of pieces for piano, violin ensemble, full orchestra, voice, and many other instruments as well -- since his adolescence. Forty-six years he lived, a rather short life, from June 8, 1810 until July 29, 1856.

Born the son of a bookseller, he studied piano. He enjoyed champagne and the writings of J.P.F Richter. He composed a little, and when he went to Leipzig to study law, he rather studied music. He convinced his family to let him give up law and be a pianist instead, but he unfortunately injured his fingers and so couldn’t play anymore, so he just composed more instead. He would have been a pianist -- now, he would be a pianist through others, since he couldn't be one himself. In 1834 he founded a musical journal, Neue Zeitschrif für Musik, which he edited for ten years. He was an excellent critic, bringing attention to many young composers and helping them to succeed, and sometimes he wrote under pseudonyms such as Eusebius, and Florestan. He sometimes used pseudonyms when he composed as well.

He mainly composed piano pieces, such as Davidsbündlertänze, Phantasiestücke, and Kinderszenen. He married the daughter of his old piano teacher in 1840.

That year he wrote some of his best pieces: in fact, he wrote about 150 of them.

His style consisted mainly of cycles of melodies, coming together in variations. The next year, though, he turned to Orchestral music, and also wrote some chamber music. It was in 1850 that he wrote the Cello Concerto, when he was a director of the town musical program in Düsseldorf. Unfortunately, he became sick and went mad, suffering hallucinations. In 1854 he entered an asylum, where he would die two years later.

Like many other composers of this era, he didn't live the most luxurious life, and he moved around from place to place doing musical-type jobs like teaching, conducting, and studying. For some reason he seems to be more of an less-famous composer than big names like Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, etc. even though he did interact with people of their class -- example, he taught in Leipzig when Mendelssohn was the director there. Perhaps it is because often the most famous composers not only composed their work, but played it themselves as well, example being Beethoven who was a concert pianist as well as a composer.

He would have been a fantastic piano player, had he not hurt himself. It's a shame that it had to happen, and that he went insane. Though it is said that the best minds are the most unstable, so perhaps it goes to show his talent.


Sources:
  • http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/schumann.html
  • http://hem.passagen.se/alkerstj/worldofclassicalmusic/romantic/robert_schumann.html
  • http://classicalmus.hispeed.com/schumann/

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