Robert Schumann

Schumann, Robert Alexander

Robert Alexander Schumann (shōō´män), 1810–56, German composer. Both as a composer and as a highly articulate music critic he was a leader of the romantic movement. He studied theory with Heinrich Dorn and piano with Friedrich Wieck, whose daughter Clara he married. Forced by a hand injury to abandon a career as a pianist, he served as editor of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik from its inception in 1834 until 1844. In his articles he championed younger composers, particularly Chopin and Brahms. Schumann's brilliant compositions for piano, including Papillons, Die Davidsbündlertänze, Carnaval, Fantasiestücke, Études symphoniques, Kinderszenen, and Kreisleriana, occupied him until 1840, when he began to write songs and orchestral music. In his lieder he set to music lyrics by such poets as Heine, Goethe, Eichendorff, and Kerner, achieving a superb fusion of vocal melody and piano accompaniment. Among his best song cycles are Frauenliebe und -Leben [Woman's Love and Life, on verses by Chamisso] and Dichterliebe [Poet's Love, verses by Heine]. His Spring Symphony (1841), Piano Concerto in A Minor (1846), and Third, or Rhenish, Symphony (1850) are his outstanding orchestral works. They exemplify his infusion of classical forms with intense, personal emotion. His one opera, Genoveva (1847–48), was unsuccessful. After a nervous breakdown, he entered (1854) a sanitarium, where he died two years later.

His wife, Clara Josephine (Wieck) Schumann, 1819–96, was one of the outstanding pianists of her time. After bitter opposition from her father she married Schumann in 1840 and eventually bore him eight children. She made her debut in 1836 and later performed with great success on the Continent, in England, and in Russia. She was noted for the intellectual brilliance and sensitivity of her playing, and was an outstanding interpreter of Schumann's and Brahms's works. Her own compositions were mainly piano pieces and songs. From 1878 to 1892 she taught at the Frankfurt Conservatory.

See his essays, On Music and Musicians (1946); his letters, tr. by M. Herbert (1888, repr. 1970); biographies by J. Chissell (1967), H. Bedford (1933, repr. 1971), J. Worthen (2007), and M. Geck (2012); studies by T. A. Brown (1968), S. Walsh (1972), A. Walker, ed. (1974), and J. W. Finson (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Robert Schumann: Selected full-text books and articles

Schumann By Eric Frederick Jensen Oxford University Press, 2001
Rethinking Schumann By Roe-Min Kok; Laura Tunbridge Oxford University Press, 2011
Robert Schumann: Herald of a New Poetic Age By John Daverio Oxford University Press, 1997
Schumann, a Life of Suffering By Victor Basch; Catherine Alison Phillips Tudor Publishing, 1936
Vanishing Sensibilities: Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann By Krishna Muxfeldt Oxford University Press, 2012
A History of Music By Theodore M. Finney Harcourt Brace, 1935
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 30 "Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Chopin"
The History of Pianoforte Music By Herbert Westerby Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1924
Librarian’s tip: Part III, Chap. VI "Reflective and Characteristic Romance- Schumann" and Part III, Chap. XII "The Reflex of Schumann"
Composers on Composers By John L. Holmes Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Schumann (1810-1856)" begins on p. 131
The Concerto By Ralph Hill Penguin Books, 1952
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Robert Schumann (1810-1856)"
Romanticism (1830-1890) By Gerald Abraham Oxford University Press, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussions of Schumann's compositions in multiple chapters
FREE! The Romantic Composers By Daniel Gregory Mason Macmillan, 1906
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Robert Schumann"
The World of Great Composers By David Ewen Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962
Librarian’s tip: "Robert Schumann (1810-1856)" begins on p. 232
The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann By Clara Schumann; Robert Schumann; Eva Weissweiler; Hildegard Fritsch; Ronald L. Crawford Peter Lang, 1994
Crossing Paths: Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms By John Daverio Oxford University Press, 2002
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