Clara Schumann


Clara, who took the stage in Berlin in 1837, sang for the first time Beethoven's piano sonata called Appassionata (Op.57), as well as breaking new ground by playing the whole piece from memory and without notes. According to Leschetizky, he was the first pianist to do so at a concert. Until the 1840s, playing the works of great composers without notes was tantamount to 'disrespect'. This behavior of Clara was enough to draw the arrows of criticism from a certain group. Beethoven's friend Bettina von Arnim said of Clara 'the hardest person to bear with anyone he meets' commented, 'For what purpose he goes to the piano without notes and plays! How modest is Döhler, who plays by placing the notes in front of him!' he added.

Joining her life with Robert Schumann on September 12, 1840, Clara's marriage to Marie, Elise, Julie, Emil (He died at the age of fourteen months), Ludwig (Born with a mental disability), Eugenie, Ferdinand and Felix had a total of eight children. The number of concerts of Clara, who had to take care of her family, decreased inversely with the number of children! She had to return to her career with her husband's psychological problems, which started in 1854. Clara, who was only thirty-five years old when she played Beethoven's Hammerklavier piano sonata, one of the most challenging programs in literature, proved to her audience that she had not lost anything from her technique and power.

He was appointed as the Head of the Piano Department of the Frankfurt Conservatory in 1878, and continued in this position until 1892. Clara, who gave her last concert in 1890 with increasing hearing loss, died in Frankfurt in 1896. Let's start the journey in time with the memories of live witnesses who became students of this giant and went to his concert.

Franklin Taylor (Student): Nothing from his hands sounds harsh or ugly; In fact, the person who listens to a quality piece of work (never plays anything that is not good) while playing it, discovers many beauties in the work that he had not noticed before. This feature is undoubtedly related to the wonderful tone it produces. I'm talking about a rich and exuberant tone, without the slightest harshness. A tone achieved with finger force even in forte passages. Its work is free from hard movements; in passages he keeps the fingers close together, squeezing the keys instead of pressing them. He grasped the chords by the wrist and did not use elbows.

Clara abhorred pointlessly fast plays and empty performances without soul and virtuosity. According to the anecdote shared by Adelina de Lara, when faced with such a meaningless performance, she raised her hands in a helpless form and said, 'Keine passagen!' he would shout and add: 'Why rush good things? Why not enjoy them?'.

As Schumann's wife, her interpretations and performances of her compositions were considered law - especially in England. The British public must have gotten so accustomed to his restrained 'rubato' technique that they were coldly greeted by Paderewski's Schumann works performed during his concert tour. According to the Polish master performer, the performer of Schumann's music 'that old woman'it's become a tradition, that's it'tradition' and 'fortissimo' stole the place 'fortissimo'. According to him, 'poor Miss Schumann' cannot do that.

She is one of the greatest female pianists in history, perhaps the best, who has had the opportunity to meet important names such as Clara Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn and Goethe, who has advanced age and hearing problems, and conquered Europe. As editor, the only word I can use for these comments of Paderewski is arrogance.

Let's continue with an anecdote of the audience watching the elderly Clara on stage to play her husband Robert Schumann's concerto at the end of her life. '…a short old woman with a veil (hat?) on her head. It was met with prolonged applause. Sitting down at the piano, she made a dozen obscure adjustments, smoothed the front of her dress. The conductor was about to start when he got up and walked towards the orchestra. He showed the first oboe that he had to follow him in the part he was pointing at with his hand. Then he went back to the piano and made the same adjustments again. It was finally ready…"-

Excerpt from Amy Fay's letter dated December 12, 1869, written in Berlin:

I listened to Clara Schumann on Sunday and Tuesday evening. He's a great artist. He played a quartet by Schumann in his first concert, you can imagine how great it would be. Joachim on the first violin, De Ahna on the second, Müller on the cello. It was just perfect and I was ecstatic. The repertoire that Ms. Schumann chose for her concerts was quite extensive and consisted of works that she could show her talents. Schumann's Impromptu (Op.90) was breathtaking. It was very difficult but full of passion. The second piece was Mendelssohn's 'Songs Without Words', which was a fairy tale-like performance. It played perfectly. Chopin's extraordinary Scherzo performance was also quite spectacular, but he played the octaves in the bass section unbound, not too bold and full for my liking, but still extremely artistic. Clara Schumann's work is quite objective. The music does not rule it, it directs the music. It allows you to enjoy every note it touches. Its touch, on the other hand, has a great perception and diversity. The second concert was much better than the first. Bach has great energy when playing; A crown adorned with jewels and diamonds should be worn! I had never heard such a noble Bach performance before. If only you could hear their scales! He has all the qualities a great artist should have. Most people think Tausig is better than him. Yes, maybe he has a better technique but other than that nothing much. I'm sending you a photo of Mrs. Schumann. Exactly as in the picture. She's physically large, very German-like, with dark hair and gorgeous neck and arms. At her last concert, she wore a short-sleeved black velvet dress. The chords he played quite strongly, the up and down movement of those big arms was quite magnificent. The second part of Schumann's quartet was as unusual as the other performances. It was very fast, very staccato and soft in tone. Not a single note escaped his fingers. You know how hard it is to play staccato softly, and he's a great performer in that regard. Both the violin and piano sonatas played by Miss Schumann and Joachim—especially Beethoven's Sonata in A minor—had divine splendor. It's worth coming across the Atlantic just to listen to these two sonatas..


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