I am now reading this very interesting and enjoyable non-fiction biography of Johannes Brahms by composer/author, Jan Swafford: “Johannes Brahms a Biography“. I am just getting to the relationship that developed between Robert and Clara Schumann with a young Johannes Brahms. I will give a book review of this biography when I finish [as it is a very long book it will take me a few days to a week].
This book brought to mind this post I first published in this blog in August of 2021. I hope you don’t mind me repeating this post here.
Robert, Clara, and Johannes
I was listening to All Classical Portland on my I phone [Tune In radio App] the other day [April 2017] when they announced there would be a showing of the old time movie classic, “Song of Love”, a film about three giants in classical music, Robert Schumann, Clara Wieck, and Johannes Brahms, and how their lives intertwined.
This film from 1947, starring Katharine Hepburn, took place in Germany around the mid-19th century with the main theme revolving around the love and marriage of Robert Schumann to Clara Wieck, who would become Clara Schumann. These were two virtuoso pianists and composers who would come in contact and develop a friendship and mentoring with a young and upcoming virtuoso pianist, Johannes Brahms. Brahms would also become one of the great Romantic Era composers, along with Robert and Clara.
There was a great love affair between Robert and Clara. Sadly there was tragedy in their relationship when Robert Schumann, feeling much pressure and failure [in his own mind] had a mental breakdown, so much so at one point he tried to take his own life [unsuccessfully]. This led Clara to forgo composing more great music in order to take care of her beloved Robert. Brahms, who became great friends with Robert and Clara, and who developed a great fondness/love for Clara, also stood by his friend’s side in his time of tragedy. Robert Schumann, sadly, could not overcome his mental problems and would remain in an asylum until his death. After Robert’s death, Johannes Brahms would remain in great friendship with Clara and develop a strong love for her.
Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms are considered two of the greatest composers in the Romantic Era of classical music, and Clara Schumann with some great compositions, especially for the piano, is certainly recognized as the best female composer of that era.
Update from the book I am reading: I am learning that it wasn’t that Clara was recognized as a great composer for a woman, but that she was actually a bigger star [if I can say it that way] and beloved more than Robert during that time period for her virtuosic piano playing and composing.
All three had in their compositions some beautiful melodic and many times romantic themes. Listen to these great piano concertos by each composer to hear some beautiful melodies and wonderful sound. Robert Schumann’s piano concerto in a minor is one of my favorites.
Also, enjoy the first movement, Allegro Moderato, of Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor; and then enjoy the emotional and beautiful, Traumerei [from scenes from childhood], by Robert Schumann – composed for piano, this version is for orchestra and just like the original version for piano, it may bring tears to your eyes; and finally enjoy the final two movements of Brahms epic Symphony #1 in C minor.
Warning: Get some Kleenex before viewing Shumann’s “Traumerei”, as you will see the audience get emotional in Russia, as Vladimir Horowitz comes back home after 61 years to give a farewell concert in Moscow.
Please turn up the volume and enjoy some beautiful music from these giants from the Romantic Era, Robert, Clara and Johannes.
Clara Schumann: Piano Concerto in a minor:
Clara Schumann: Piano Trio in g minor, Movement 1 Allegro Moderato:
Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in a minor:
Robert Schumann: “Traumerei” from Scenes from Childhood:
Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto #2 in B-Flat Major:
Johannes Brahms: Symphony #1 in c minor, Movements 3, un poco allegretto; and 4, Adagio–Allegro non troppo: