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Clara Schumann

Classical Academy | Composers


Clara Schumann was a truly remarkable woman. With a 61-year concert career to her name (she made her debut aged just 9 years old) and an impressive compositional output, she should be remember for being a lot more than the wife of acclaimed pianist and composer Robert Schumann. In fact, she was one of the first pianists to perform from memory and, as a teacher in later life, made significant improvements to modern piano-playing technique.


As a composer, Clara owed much to her father who had raised her single-handedly following her parents' divorce when she was only 4 years old. At 14 she wrote her first piano concerto (aided in part by Robert), which had its first performance at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with none other than Felix Mendelssohn conducting. Her significant oeuvre includes songs, piano pieces, a piano trio, and choral music. Her three Romances for violin and piano composed in 1853 were inspired by her husband's birthday.


Sadly Clara lost confidence in her compositional abilities in later life, declaring "I once believed I had creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose - there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I be the one?" Little must this humble woman known that she would become an aspirational figure for female composers today. Enjoy this beautiful recording of her delightful songs.


Find out more about another great female composer with our article on Amy Beach and explore a full repertoire of works written by women by clicking here.