Thursday, 26 March 2015


Clara Schumann (1819-1896) was a child prodigy. She went on her first concert tour at the age of eleven, and soon played to sell-out crowds. She got to know her husband, Robert Schumann, when he took music lessons from her father and became a lodger at their house. The following (somewhat inaccurate) account appeared in the memoirs of “Carmen Sylva” , the pen name of Elisabeth, Queen of Romania.

My father and mother were divorced. From childhood on I was a little hard of hearing, but my father decided that I should become a musician. At the age of 12 I was already able to give a public performance. At one time he took me to visit my mother in Berlin. He merely pulled open the door and said: Madame, I bring you your daughter. It was very difficult for me because I adored my mother, but my father had remarried, and my stepmother was not good for me.

When I was fourteen, Schumann came to our house. We fell in love and became secretly engaged. He was eighteen, I was fourteen! We kept my strict father in the dark. He had other plans for me.

When my husband was twenty-two and I was eighteen, I stood before a judge between him and my father. Schumann proved that he was of age and fully capable of supporting a family. My father had written a letter to my bridegroom which contained eighteen injurious remarks, which is why he took him to court. And there I was, standing between them, but the judge awarded me to my bridegroom. My father foamed at the mouth, for he had always said: My daughter will not marry a common musician. She is too good even for a duke or a prince.

He threw me out, without allowing me to take my clothes or linen. My stepmother even ripped a small ring from my finger, which I had from my mother, and gave it to her daughter. Thus I was cast out and walked away with my husband, but it was heaven! Ten years of Heaven!
(Source: Carmen Sylva, Mein Penatenwinkel, my trans.)

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