CHAPTER 11
The Years in Dresden

A poet, as he is to others of the highest wisdom, pleasure, virtue, and glory, so he ought personally to be the happiest, the best, the wisest, and the most illustrious of men … the greatest poets have been of the most spotless virtue, of the most consummate prudence, and, if we could look into the interior of their lives, the most fortunate of men.

—Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

EVEN PRIOR TO THEIR MARRIAGE, SCHUMANN HAD BRIEFLY considered settling with Clara in Dresden (primarily as a means of avoiding Wieck). It was only about sixty miles southeast of Leipzig and since 1839 connected by train—a three-hour journey that Schumann had felt was convenient enough for him to continue his work with the Zeitschrift. But it was a city markedly different in character from Leipzig: not a bustling commercial center, but residence of the King of Saxony and his court. As might be expected, it was far more stratified socially. Its artistic climate differed as well. Dresden did not possess the stimulating and variegated musical life of Leipzig. Rather, it was renowned for its academy of art and the distinguished painters associated with it. If, in selecting a new residence for Schumann, the intention had been to choose one that bore little resemblance to any other place in which he had lived, then Dresden was an ideal choice. But if—and this would

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