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Introducing Clara Schumann

feat. the Queen herself

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Talk about good timing.

The year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Clara Schumann: a pianist-composer who was internationally famous and admired in her time, but as a woman, one who after her death in 1896 pretty much got written out of the history books beyond being mentioned in passing as the wife of Robert Schumann.

Until recently, when finally the musical world woke up to the fact that there may have been social reasons – rather than ones of quality control – for the complete lack of female names amongst the accepted role call of noteworthy historical composers. So here we are celebrating Clara Schumann's major anniversary in a musical climate ready to assess her compositions with fresh ears and attitudes, and our five choices (all of which feature her instrument, the piano) reveal not only a technically gifted composer, but one with the strength and imagination to not let the accepted musical templates get in the way of a good idea. They are: The Three Romances for violin and piano, the Piano Concerto in A minor, the Piano Trio in G minor, and then for solo piano, the Opus 6 Soirées musicales and the Opus 14 Scherzo No 2 in C minor.

So listen, analyse, admire, but also sigh because there's a sting in the tail: Clara Schumann ceased composing aged just 36, shortly after her husband died in a mental institution, and in later life she famously said, “I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose – there has never been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?” In retrospect, of course, the answer is yes. Still, this anniversary year is a time not to mourn over what she didn't leave us, but to celebrate what she did.

Curation & Text: Natascha Stromer, Charlotte Gardner

Speaker: Charlotte Gardner

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Introducing Clara Schumann

  • An introduction to Schumann, C — 3 Romanzen op. 22

  • 3 Romanzen op. 22 Preview Only

    Clara Schumann

    Lisa Batiashvili, Alice Sara Ott2012
  • An introduction to Schumann, C — Piano Concerto in a minor op. 7

  • Piano Concerto in a minor op. 7 Preview Only

    Clara Schumann

    Lucy Parham, BBC Concert Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth
  • An introduction to Schumann, C — Piano Trio in g minor op. 17

  • Piano Trio in g minor op. 17 Preview Only

    Clara Schumann

    Antje Weithaas, Tanja Tetzlaff, Gunilla Süssmann2012
  • An introduction to Schumann, C — Soirées Musicales, 6 pieces for piano op. 6

  • Soirées Musicales, 6 pieces for piano op. 6 Preview Only

    Clara Schumann

    Veronica Jochum1995
  • An introduction to Schumann, C — Scherzo No. 2 in c minor op. 14

  • Scherzo No. 2 in c minor op. 14 Preview Only

    Clara Schumann

    Sophie Pacini2017

(Preview Only)