Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso

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9780618551606: Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso

A piano prodigy, Clara Schumann made her professional debut at the age of nine and had embarked on her first European concert tour by the time she was twelve. Clara charmed audiences with her soulful playing throughout her life. Music was a constant source of inspiration and support for this strong and resilient woman. After the death of her husband, Robert Schumann, Clara continued her brilliant career and supported their eight children. Clara Schumann's extraordinary story is supplemented with her letters and diary entries, some of which have never before been published in English. Gorgeous portraits and photographs show the members of Clara's famous musical community and Clara herself from age eight to seventy-six. Index, chronology.

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About the Author:

Susanna Reich is the author of Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso, which was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book, a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She lives with her husband, author Gary Golio, in Ossining, New York. For more information please visit www.susannareich.com.

Review:

"Anyone interested in music history or in women's history will find a compelling story here." Kirkus Reviews

Here's the stuff movies are made of: Clara Wieck gave her first piano recital at age nine in Leipzig in 1828. It was the beginning of a lifetime of concert tours across Europe to wild adulation. Her father was autocratic enough to cause her mother to divorce him in an age when women had no rights in a separation, and Clara had to sue him to get permission to marry and to get back some of the fortune she had earned. Clara's husband, composer Robert Schumann, was a pupil of Wieck's: Robert's depression led to his death in an asylum, but he fathered eight children with Clara, and she played and delighted in his music all her life. Goethe praised Clara when she was 12; as an adult she was close to Liszt and Mendelssohn, and a friend and inspiration to the young Brahms. Many illustrations bring life to this account, which is based in part on the life long research and writing on Clara Schumann done by Nancy B. Reich (the author's mother). A full, colorful, biography of a fascinating artist.

August 1999 Booklist, ALA

Although Reich is careful to view the remarkable musician Clara Schumann in her own time, modern-day readers will take her extraordinary story and think about it from a late-twentieth-century perspective. Psychoanalysts will have much to say about her temperamental, demanding father; feminists will speak about a woman who dared to perform in public a week before the birth of her child; family therapists will marvel at a woman whose mentally ill husband left her as the sole provider for her seven surviving children. Reich never lets us forget that Clara Schumann is a talented woman in a world dominated by men, relating how the director of a leading music conservatory in Frankfurt wrote that no woman would ever be employed there, except for Clara: "As for Madame Schumann, I count her as a man." This heavily researched book draws on primary sources, both Clara's own diaries and her voluminous correspondence with her husband (more comfortable writing than speaking to each other, she and her husband maintained a joint diary) and other musicians of the times. Few of us are aware that Clara Schumann's better-known husband, composer Robert Schumann, owes much of his fame to his wife's persistence in including his compositions in her legendary piano performances and to her dogged efforts to make his music part of the public domain. Reich's lucid, quietly passionate biography, liberally illustrated with photographs and reproductions, ensures that Clara Schumann's remarkable life and achievements stand on their own.
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