Monday’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor reminds us that Clara Wieck Schumann was born on that day, September 13, 1819. Clara vied with Franz Liszt for the title of preeminent concert pianist of the 19th century, though her role as wife of composer Robert Schumann and mother of their eight children required her to cut back on performing for a time as well as to leave off composing.
Legal issues permeated the Schumanns’ lives. To marry, they had to file a lawsuit, for Clara’s controlling and grasping father/teacher/agent/producer opposed their relationship. After their marriage, Clara writes in her diary and correspondence of further legal disputes with her father over her earnings and property. And Clara eventually had to commit Robert to an institution because of his insanity, the result of his syphilis.
The Schumanns’ lives show that truth is far stranger and more complex than fiction! For more, you can read “The Marriage Diaries of Robert and Clara Schumann” as well as your choice of several juicy biographies.
Who are your favorite musicians? For enthralling reading, what biographies do you recommend?