Sunday, May 20, 2018

Clara Schumann - Piano Trio Op. 17

Image from Der Wik
Most composers throughout history have been men.  Clara Schumann's story tells us why.  She was the wife of composer Robert Schumann.

As you would expect from those times, he was better known than she, even though she was a musical prodigy from an young age.  But they had eight children together (only four of whom survived to adulthood), and she was the primary caregiver for them.  Her husband fell ill (perhaps bipolar disorder) and she became the family's primary caregiver, especially after his death in an asylum.

This left little time for composing.  As her husband wrote about her:
Clara has composed a series of small pieces, which show a musical and tender ingenuity such as she has never attained before. But to have children, and a husband who is always living in the realm of imagination, does not go together with composing. She cannot work at it regularly, and I am often disturbed to think how many profound ideas are lost because she cannot work them out.
Nevertheless, she ended producing a fair number of compositions.  You wonder what she might have created had she had a less hectic family life.


Beans said...

The toll of Mental Illness is not just on the sick one, but on those around, especially the primary care giver.

As to having 4 children survive to adulthood, that was about average, even better than some. People today forget that Diptheria was (and still is in some places) a major cause of childhood death (and old people.)

libertyman said...

Interesting to read about the back story, and her husband's mental illness.

Just back from Maine and missed class!