Johannes Brahms

Robert – Clara – Brahms: The story of artists behind their music (part 2)

Clara has always been the muse of Robert Schumann. Clara’s signature works appear throughout Robert’s entire work, under abundant musical quotes, dedication, allusions, lyrical abundance.

Schumann’s Clara is not only a good artist but also a composer. She does not compose much and her works are also little known. Mostly due to prejudice about the female composer of that period. However, records show that her seventh-class piano concerto was completed in 1835 and made its debut in November of that year under the performance of the Leizig Gewandhaus orchestra and Felix Mendelsohn. This work reflects the soul and creativity of the 16-year-old female musician, starting with the Classical period stereotypes but later surpassing them with her talent.

Clara doesn’t spend a lot of time composing, but at a special moment, she still devotes a small part to her musical feelings. In 1853, Clara wrote a series of seven variations on a gloomy and sad theme by Robert.

Robert’s death brought Clara completely back to performing and teaching to support the whole family, a career that ended in 1891 at the age of 70. She stopped writing but Clara spends a lot of time editing, publishing Robert’s works, especially of the unknowns, and thereby further popularizing his art.

Hearing the news that Robert was in a nursing home after jumping into the Rhine at the devil’s instigation just four months after that memorable October, Brahms rushed back from Hanover to Düsseldorf. More than anyone, Brahms loved and admired Robert. Recently, Robert also instructed him and introduced his name to the European public, declaring this young Hamburg man to be the savior of German music. Worried about the Schumann family background, Brahms decided to stay with Clara and the children. Because Clara was not allowed to meet Robert, Brahms became the most visited of the nursing home, and brought many of Robert’s friends to visit him. For the two and a half years before Robert died, Brahms stayed by Clara’s side, comforting her, watching over the kids while Clara was on tour and even teaching the piano to help her with her life.

Robert – Clara – Brahms: The story of artists behind their music (part 1)

The relationship between Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann is not merely a difficult-to-identify love triangle that hides special sympathies that only arise among people who live for music. It was also a source of many famous works by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

In the world of classical music, all three Germans are big names. Their strange relationship began with a young Brahms’ trip to Düsseldorf on September 30, 1853. He nervously brought a letter of introduction from violinist Joseph Joachim to the knock on the door of famous couple Robert and Clara Schumann. At that time, Brahms asked Robert to teach composition and timidly play some of his skits.

Hearing a few notes, Robert stopped, stopped Brahms from playing the guitar, and quickly invited Clara into the room to enjoy the talent of the unknown young man. When the whole room was filled with the magical music that Robert and Clara had never heard, it signaled an important moment in Brahms’s life. And this is also a memorable moment in the history of music: a blend of the souls of three artists, three composers whose names are tied together forever.

At that time, Robert Schumann at the age of 43 was an illustrious composer with a range of compositions spanning many genres, from lied, chamber music to concerto, symphony, opera, chorus. He co-founded Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, a music magazine dedicated to new perspectives compared to his contemporary, and introduced Chopin to Europe. Besides, Robert Schumann is also known for his romantic relationship with Clara Wieck. She was a talented, beautiful pianist and the daughter of his own teacher, Friedrich Wieck, who had objected to a marriage that made Robert wait for Clara to be 18 years old so that she could make her own life.

By the time of the meeting between the future composer and the Schumann family, Clara was 34 years old, the mother of seven children, and was preparing to welcome another child next year. Clara is not anonymous. Her name has resonated throughout Europe on tours since she was a nine-year-old prodigy debuting at Leipzig Gewandhaus and publishing her first works, four Polonaise. Top contemporary composers like Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Felix Mendelsohn, Nicolo Paganini, even the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, all admired Clara’s talent.