Schumann, Robert
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Schumann (1839) by Joseph Kriehuber, Schumann Museum, Zwickau

Born: 8 June 1810, Zwickau, Germany
Died: 29 July 1856, Endenich, Austria

Schumann, Robert

Like many other composers, Schumann also abandoned law school, forced upon him by his father, and turned to music. His hand was injured and his dreams of a pianist's career vanished. He became a music critic for a magazine he founded, and identified young geniuses like Brahms and Chopin, and recognized the talents of Mendelssohn and Berlioz. He also discovered, in Vienna, forgotten pieces by Schubert and saw to it that they were published.

Clara Schumann by Franz Lenbach, Robert-Schumann-Haus, ZwickauAt that time, he began writing little pieces for piano (miniatures), in which he excelled, and which were played by his pianist wife Clara Wieck Schumann, who promoted his music all her life. Among the works of that period, "Kreisleriana", and the cycle "Scenes of Childhood"'Dreaming' (No.7) from 'Scenes from Childhood' Op.15 - Schumann'Knight of the wooden horse' (No.9) from 'Scenes from Childhood' Op.15 - Schumann'Almost too serious' (No.10) from 'Scenes from Childhood' Op.15 - Schumann ("Kinderszenen"). He used to name works and movements, yet these were not the mark of a programme, but more clues to the spirit or mood, and meant to help the listener. Later on, he turned to symphonies (the best one of which was Symphony No. 3 - "The Rhenish"), chamber music and exquisite cycles of liederSchumann - Waldesgesprach (from Liedeskreis op. 39) (art songs) like "A Poet's Love" ("Dichterliebe") and "A Woman's Life and Love" ("Frauenliebe und -leben") Op. 42.

He composed musical overtures for drama, expressing the stage content; "Manfred" and "Scenes from Faust" are examples of such works. Schumann always admired Bach, and tended to incorporate Classic and even polyphonic elements, such as canons and fugues, in his work.

Throughout his entire life, Schumann suffered a mental illness, and only when it was dormant could he compose. Nearing the end of his life, his condition deteriorated, and he unsuccessfully tried to drown himself. He spent his last few years in a mental institution. In the course of these years, he could hear one sound that accompanied all his actions. Nothing could be harsher for a musician.

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Romantic period
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