Robert Schumann had a difficult start as a composer. Denied any significant musical upbringing, he took a long time through indirect routes to establish himself as a major composer. Persistent illness also dogged his work. His final catastrophic mental collapse has combined with the autobiographical and secretive aspects of his music to cast for posterity a veil of omius mystery over his entire life. Yet this is only one view. Schumann battled his personal demons and was acutely self-aware and organized. He transformed himself from a brilliant youthful fantasist in small forms into a composer of extended works in every genre. This book provides a new focus on Schumann as a practical working musician interacting with the professional world to develop his creative gifts to the full, and examines the central role of Clara Wieck Schumann in helping to bring this about.
Michael Musgrave is Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of London, Visiting Research Fellow at the Royal College of Music, and serves on the Graduate Faculty of the Juilliard School, New York. His field of research is nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German music and English concert life in the same period. His many books include The Musical Life of the Crystal Palace (1995), The Cambridge Companion to Brahms (1999), A Brahms Reader (2000) and, with Bernard D. Sherman, Performing Brahms: Early Evidence of Performance Style (2003), with a CD of historical recordings: this won the 2003 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Best Research in Recorded Classical Music.