Born on 13 September, 1819, Clara was no stranger to music. Her mother was a famous singer, and though she stayed with her father after her parents divorce, music was always present in her life. She received music lessons for one hour each day, and practiced an additional two hours after that. She began performing at age 8, and it was during one of these performances she met Robert Schumann, then 17, who admired her skill so much he quit law school in order to learn under her father. He moved into her house when she was 11, and when she was 18, he proposed and she accepted. Clara’s father disapproved. His daughter was already a respected musician, and despite seven years of instruction Robert was, well, not. Her father didn’t want her to “throw herself away on a penniless composer.” Elopement was more difficult in Germany those days and the two had to sue Clara’s father in order for a judge to approve of their marriage. Their tactic worked. They were wed, and began their lives together.
The Clara became famous in the artistic scene. Her husband, somewhat less so. Clara was a mainly a concert pianist. Robert encouraged her to propose, and he himself was mainly a composer. Unfortunately, the quality of his compositions has been debated by critics, both then and now. Robert was also prone to mental instability and in 1854 he attempted suicide by throwing himself into the Rhrine. He was rescued by fisherman, but insisted that he be committed to an asylum. He was granted his wish and remained in the asylum and remained there until he died. During this time neither his wife nor their 8 children were allowed to visit him. During that time, Clara composed regularly and performed, but performance had become a literal pain for her. She suffered from arthritis and underwent multiple homeopathic treatments for it.
Despite her success, after her husband’s death, She, like Mary Shelley, devoted her life to brining his works recognition. She suffered a stroke in 1896, and was subsequently rendered deaf and confined to a wheelchair. It’s odd then, that on her deathbed she demanded her grandson play her husband’s major romance in F-sharp. It would be the last song she ever heard. She died on May 20, 1896.