Robert Schumann : biography
Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau (Saxony) on the 8th of June in 1810 in a family of a publisher and write August Schumann. (1773-1826). Schumann studied music with a local organist; at the age of ten he began to compose music, particularly choral and archestral music. He attended classes in a gymnasium in his native town where he got acquainted with compositions of Bairon and Jean Paul and became their passionate lover. The mood and images of this romantic literature were reflected afterwards in Schumann’s musical creative work. In childhood Robert began his professional literature work, he made articles for the encyclopedia that was published in his father’s publishing house. He was seriously interested in language and literature study, he made the proofreading before publishing a big Latin dictionary. And Schumann’s school compositions were written on such high level that they were published as an attachment to the collection of his mature journalist works. In the definite period of his youth Schumann even hesitated between literature and music.
In 1828 Robert Schumann entered Leipzig University and on the next year he entered Heidelberg University. Mother insisted that he should become a lawyer but the young man liked music more and more. He was attracted by the idea to become a pianist. In 1830 he asked his mother to permit him to devote his life to music and returned to Leipzig where he hoped to find a good teacher. He started to take lessons of playing the piano from Wieck and lessons of composition from Heinrich Dorn. He wanted to become a real virtuoso and studied with fanatic persistence but this insistence led to a problem: he forced exercises with a special machinery for arm muscles’ defense and hurt his right hand. His middle finger couldn’t move and in spite of the long treatment his arm was unable to a virtuosic piano play. The idea of becoming a professional musician was left. And then Schumann seriously occupied himself with composing and musical critique. He was supported by Friedrich Wieck, Ludwig Schunke and Julius Knorr and in 1834 Schumann managed to organize one of the most influential musical periodical magazine – “New Musical newspaper”.for several years he edited and regularly published articles in this magazine. He established a reputation of a follower of new and a fighter against old in art, against the so called Philistine who braked the development of music with their narrow-windedness and backwardness and who were a stronghold of conservatism.
In October of 1838 the composer moved to Vienna but in April of 1839 he returned to Leipzig. In 1840 Leipzig University made Schumann a doctor of philosophy. This year on the 12 of September he married the daughter of his teacher, an outstanding pianist Clara Wieck. He composed near 140 songs in the year of his wedding. For several years husband and wife lived happily. They have eight children. Schumann accompanied his wife in concert tours and she often performed her husband’s music. Schumann taught in Leipzig conservatory which was established in 1843 by Mendelssohn.
In 1844 Schumann with his wife went on a tour to Saint Petersburg and Moscow where they were received with big honour. This year Schumann moved from Leipzig to Dresden where the first signs of nerve disorder appeared. Only in 1846 Schumann recovered and was able to compose music again.
In 1850 Schumann received an invitation to become a municipal director in Dusseldorf. But some conflicts started there and in autumn of 1853 the contract wasn’t renewed. In November of 1853 Schumann with his wife went on a tour around Netherlands where he and Clara were received with honour and joy. But that time the signs of disease appeared again. At the beginning of 1854 after the intensification of the disease Schumann tried to make a suicide plunging into Rhine but he was saved. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital near Bonn. He didn’t compose in Bonn and sketches of his new compositions were lost. He was seldom allowed to see his wife Clara. Robert died on the 29th of July in 1856 and was buried in Bonn.
Schumann was an intellectual and aesthete and he reflected the deep personal nature of romanticism in his music more than any other composer. His early music was introspective and very often fanciful, it was an attempt to break off with the tradition of classical forms and structures which as he thought were too limited. Schumann’s creative work was related to Heine’s poetry and it set at defiance to Germany’s spiritual pettiness of 1820-1840-s, it was a way to the world of high humaneness. Schumann was a successor of Schubert and Weber, he developed democratic and realistic tends of German and Austrian musical romanticism. His music wasn’t understood during Schumann’s life but now it is considered to be courageous and original phenomenon in harmony, rhythm and form. His works are tightly connected with traditions of German classical music.