Having written in the November Fine Music magazine, about Robert Schumann’s career and his wife Clara’s loving support, it is equally important to note that Robert in his turn encouraged and supported Clara as a composer and as a performing pianist. Long before her marriage, Clara had established herself as a concert pianist. She debuted at the Leipzig Gewandhaus at the age of nine and started touring as an 11-year-old. She captured the attention of 18-year-old Robert Schumann when she was nine years old and their friendship eventually led to love and a very happy marriage.
The births of five children in seven years severely restricted Clara’s ability to compose and maintain a concert career. As the children grew older, she resumed her concert activities and she and Robert often toured together. After his death, she took on even more touring, mainly with their family friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. Clara was considered to be one of the most distinguished pianists of her time and her influence over her 61-year concert career is said to have changed the format and repertoire of the piano recital and even the tastes of the listening public.
Daniel Barenboim began conducting lessons with Igor Markevitch in Salzburg at age nine and he was also a piano prodigy, having given his first piano recital in Buenos Aires aged five. He went on to build a stellar career as both pianist and conductor.
In an obituary for Jacqueline du Pré we read: “During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Miss du Pré and her husband, the conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, seemed a charmed couple. Often compared with Robert and Clara Schumann, they were admired for their energy, musicality and youthful glamour”. It was a magic partnership and they often performed and recorded together.
Musical Families can be heard on Tuesdays 2 and 16 January at 2pm. – ES
This article appeared in the January issue of Fine Music Magazine. Read the full magazine online here.