Book Reviews (マイブック評)

Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman revised edition by Nancy B. Reich 6/8/19

June 9, 2019

This book was first published in 1985, when the woman’s studies were not common, and Ms.Reich became an advocate of the woman’s studies throughout her life. This biography depicts Clara Schumann’s life in many aspects, as a child prodigy, composer, pianist, artist, teacher, wife, mother of 8 children, business woman, music promoter, social figure, and etc. It is an entertaining book as much as a well-researched biography so that anyone can enjoy reading it.

Clara Schumann was an important force in the music world in the 19th century. I personally enjoyed reading numerous letters she exchanged with Robert Schumann, her children and her friends in this book. It is very interesting that she is deeply romantic and soulful in the letters she wrote to Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, but when she wrote to her children she was no longer soulful. She was often away from home for her concert tours, and she tried her best to maintain her busy family life. So she often sent letters to home, but she was rather practical and business-like with her children. (I understand it was common in her class status in 19th century in Germany that children were often raised by nannies and they were sent to boarding schools away from their families.) She established and maintained an extraordinary performing career while supporting and supervising a household and seven children. Her concert fees were the main resources in Schumann’s household. She was pregnant most of time, 8 pregnancy in 16 years of marriage life, including Robert’s confinement in a mental asylum for 2 years, but she kept working all the time. When Robert was ill and dying she kept working. Her own children, Julie and Felix, were dying she was working. She was constantly facing with tragedies, but she preferred working to get over her continuous difficulties. 

Of course she had so many triumphant too! She was an influential figure in the music world. She was inspirational. She was an extraordinary performer and artist. She was like Rostropovich in the 19th century. So many composers have dedicated their works to Mr. Rostropovich, and so as Clara. Brahms have dedicated many of his works. Robert Schumann wrote most of his piano music thinking of her. She collaborated with Mendelssohn and Joachim. Liszt and Chopin praised her pianism. I wish I could hear her playing…