13th September 1819
20th May 1896
Clara Schumann, nee Wieck, was a German performer and composer, considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. She exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital and the tastes of the listening public. Toghether with her husband Robert Schumann, she encouraged Johannes Brahms, being the first pianist to give public performances of some his works. As part of the broad musical education given her by her father, Clara learned to compose, and from childhood to middle age she produced a substantial body of work. At age fourteen she wrote her piano concerto, with some help from Robert Schumann, and performed it at age sixteen at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with Mendelssohn conducting. As she grew older, however, she lost confidence in herself as a composer, and stopped writing after the age of 36. Today her compositions, which include songs, piano pieces, a concerto, a trio, choral pieces, and three romances for violin and piano, are increasingly performed and recorded.