Clara Schumann

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Clara Schumann (née Clara Josephine Wieck; 13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896) was a German musician 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. Her husband was the composer Robert Schumann. She and her husband encouraged Johannes Brahms, and she was the first pianist to give public performances of some of Brahms' works, notably the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel.

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Early life

Clara Josephine Wieck was born in Leipzig on 13 September 1819 to Friedrich and Marianne Wieck (née Tromlitz).[1] Her parents divorced when she was four years old; Clara was raised by her father.[1] In March 1828, at the age of eight, the young Clara Wieck performed at the Leipzig home of Dr. Ernst Carus, director of a mental hospital at Colditz Castle, and met another gifted young pianist invited to the musical evening named Robert Schumann, nine years older than she. Schumann admired Clara's playing so much that he asked permission from his mother to discontinue his studies of the law, which had never interested him much, and take music lessons with Clara's father, Friedrich Wieck. While taking lessons, he took rooms in the Wieck household, staying about a year.

In 1830, at the age of eleven, Clara left on a concert tour to Paris via other European cities, accompanied by her father. She gave her first solo concert at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. In Weimar, she performed a bravura piece by Henri Herz for Goethe, who presented her with a medal with his portrait and a written note saying, "For the gifted artist Clara Wieck." During that tour, Niccolò Paganini was in Paris, and he offered to appear with her.[2] However, her Paris recital was poorly attended as many people had fled the city due to an outbreak of cholera.[2]

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