Robert Schumann (1810-1856) had a double talent for music and literature. He was a pianist, composer, conductor, but also a writer and journalist. The magazine “Neue Zeitschrift für Musik”, which he co-founded and edited, still exists today.
His compositional output comprises over 140 works. Without the support and the artistic-critical view of the composer, successful pianist and wife Clara Schumann, née Wieck, this enormous workload would not have been conceivable.
After his own career as a pianist was no longer possible due to chronic pain in his hands (perhaps caused by excessive mechanical strain on his fingers during practice), Schumann concentrated entirely on composing.
Popular works by Schumann are the Dichterliebe op. 48 (a song cycle for one voice and piano), his 3rd Symphony op. 97 (Die Rheinische), the Kinderszenen op. 15 and the Album für die Jugend op. 68 for piano, the Concerto for piano and orchestra in A minor op. 54, the Concerto for violin and orchestra in D minor WoO 1, and the Piano quintet in E flat major op. 44.
For many years Schumann was a close friend of Johannes Brahms. He also had great admiration for Frédéric Chopin. On the other hand, he distanced himself from the programme music of Franz Liszt, although Liszt saw in Schumann’s works an expression of a poetically oriented and progressive composition that he himself aspired to.
After increasingly depressive phases at a mature age and an attempted suicide, Schumann spent the last years of his life in a mental hospital near Bonn. Johannes Brahms visited him there repeatedly until his death. His wife Clara survived him for 40 years.