Saturday, November 06, 2004


Clara Haskil (1895-1960)
Romanian pianist, Clara Haskil was born in Bucharest and lost her father at the age of four. Clara studied at the Bucharest Conservatory, and at age 12, at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1910, at age 15, she was awarded primier prix, playing before a jury consisting of Faurè, Moszkowski, Raoul Pugno, and Ricardo Viñes. Clara made her Wignore Hall début in 1951 and gave a series of recitals for the BBC. In 1957, she was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in belated recognition of the expressiveness of her playing. Although her career as a performer was very successful, Clara was tormented by self-doubt and dissatisfaction throughout her life. Clara Haskil- Schumann was recorded in 1951-1955.

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Robert Schumann was born June 8, 1810 in Zwickau, Saxony. Even though his father was encouraged him to pursue his music, Robert's mother sent him to study law at Leipzig. But when it was obvious that he had no gift or desire for law and was only happy only making music, she agreed to let him train as a concert pianist. Thus, in 1828, at age 18, Robert began to study with Friedrich Wieck in Leipzig, where he met Wieck’s 9 year old daughter Clara, who was a marvelous pianist. In 1837, Robert and Clara decided to get married, but Clara’s father refused to let them. However, they got married regardless. Robert’s composing began in 1828, when he moved to Heidelberg. In 1854, Robert lived in a private asylum in Endenich until his death in July of 1856.

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Robert composed Piano Concerto in A minor in 1941, late in his life. The third and fourth movements weren’t written until four years after the first two, when the deterioration of his physical and mental condition were predominant. Although Clara was the soloist whenever the piano concerto was performed, she confessed later that she did not like it.

Kinderszenen, Op. 15
Also referred to as “Scenes of Childhood”, Kinderszenen consists of 13 small pieces which were written in a period where Clara and Robert were apart. In a letter written to Clara, Robert writes: “you will enjoy them- though you will have to forget that you are a virtuoso”. The pieces in Kinderszenen are addressed to adults and are “reminiscences of a grown-up for grown-ups”, stated Robert. Kinderszenen was published in 1839 and has no dedication.

Waldszenen, Op. 82
Waldszenen, written in 1949 consists of 9 pieces for piano. Fighting in Dresden on May 3, 1849 forced Clara, who was pregnant at the time, and Robert out of their home. Waldszenen was finished before their banishment.

Variations on the Name ABEGG, Op. 1
Written in Heidelberg in 1830, the “Abeg” Variations and the Papillons were Robert’s first published piano pieces. The title, “Abeg” is significant in two ways. “Abeg” is the name of a family in Mannheim, which Schumann had known. The title also spells out a sequence of notes, which in a waltz tempo, create the theme in which the variations are based.

Works Cited
Daverio, John. “Robert Schumann”. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Ed. Stanley Sadie. 2nd ed. Vol. 22. New York: Macmillan, 2001.

Morrison, Bryce. “Clara Haskil”. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Ed. Stanley Sadie. 2nd ed. Vol. 11. New York: Macmillan, 2001.

Taylor, Ronald. Robert Schumann: His Life and Work. Granada Publishing Limited,