Clara and Robert Schumann.
  • Clara and Robert Schumann.
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When we speak of classical music power couples there are a few which come to mind. There are Richard and Cosima Wagner, Frederic Chopin and George Sand, Gustav and Alma Mahler, Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck. The ultimate power couple was Robert and Clara Schumann, and they had their wedding anniversary on September 12.

Robert studied piano with Clara’s father, Friedrich Wieck. As Clara was nine years younger than Robert, she all but grew up with him. They met at a musical event when Clara was eight years-old and Robert 17. Clara was pianist prodigy and so impressed Robert that he quit his studies in law to pursue music as a vocation.

We have Clara’s father to thank for some of Robert’s best and most popular music. When Papa Wieck found out about the budding romance between the then 15-year-old Clara and Robert he forbade it and forced them to burn all of their correspondence.

With the advent of a forbidden love Robert went full romantic. Never go full romantic. It’s awful. Robert took to waiting for hours in a city where Clara was performing in order to see her for just a few minutes. He also began setting ardent poetry to musical settings for piano and voice.

In 1840, his so called Liederjahre, Schumann wrote at least 138 songs including the Liederkreis and Dichterliebe. Liederkreis is a series of poems about nature and Dichterliebe is about a young poet who is in love and ends up alone.


The old, angry songs/The dreams, angry and wicked...

In the final song of the Dichterliebe the poet decides to bury all his hateful songs and dreams of the past. He needs 12 giants to bear the coffin of his past into the sea. The final verse of the song explains why giants are needed.

Do you know why the coffin

Has to be so huge and heavy?

Because I sank all my love in it

And all of my great grief.

Wow Robert, yearn much?

When Clara turned 18 Robert proposed. She said yes. Her father said no. The couple took the issue to court and the judge ruled in their favor. They were married September 12, 1840, the day before Clara’s 21st birthday

They were married until Robert died in 1856. After suffering a mental collapse and attempting suicide in 1854, Robert requested that he be put in an asylum where he died.

I told you going full romantic is a bad idea.

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