Clara Schumann: A Romantic Biography

Clara Schumann: A Romantic Biography

Clara Schumann: A Romantic Biography

Clara Schumann: A Romantic Biography

Excerpt

ENTERING one of the seven narrow gates of Leipzig a century ago was like slipping into a tight little stronghold, a world sufficient in itself. There was then little more to Leipzig than what is still called the "inner town," the Alte Stadt . Approaching it, one beheld amidst flat meadow and wooded land a solid front of masonry, partly wall, partly houses, with not so much as a crevice between them. Lacking the vantage of any elevation whatsoever, the medieval builders of Leipzig had achieved an impregnability of compactness. The Ring , the encircling band of open land, in ancient times a safeguard against stalking foes, had long been a verdant parkway, a favorite promenade when the weather was fine. The Ring was the Leipzigers' escape from their cloister of unrelieved stone and brick. For generations they preferred to dwell within the boundaries of the Alte Stadt . They were contented with their crowded quarters, the narrow streets, the buildings ranged in solid blocks, three or four stories high, with steeply pitched roofs breaking out in another story or two of gabled windows. The architecture of Leipzig bespoke its culture and its point of view: a certain baroque elegance in superstructure, a genuine effort toward beauty, and beneath, a plain, common-sense solidity.

The burghers of Leipzig nurtured and guarded with the same caution their material and their spiritual wealth. The arts and letters were not a flowering of leisure, but an integral, civic activity. Spirit and substance were as closely intermingled in their thoughts as the complex of houses in their streets, where private dwellings, shops, printing plants, warehouses, churches, university buildings, all shouldered each other and merged into a single life. Leipzig . . .

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