Robert Schumann: A Portrait of Pain and Passion
Generally considered one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time, Robert Schumann spent his lifetime trying to establish himself as a German icon. Great difficulties faced him, however: the superior reputation of his pianist wife, Clara; his own inability to hold a musical directorship; and perhaps above all, his escalating physical and mental torment. Modern scholarship has helped to unravel myriad details about the life and music of the composer, yielding the portrait of a man who had but few goals in his life—to generate magnificent music, to elevate the standards of musical taste, and to nurture a wife and children who were thoroughly dedicated to him. One can only imagine the richness in conversation as Robert and Clara socialized with luminaries such as Mendelssohn, Wagner, Chopin, Brahms and Liszt. Whether living in Leipzig, Dresden or Düsseldorf, the Schumann residence was a required venue for visiting artists. During a fifty-six year lifetime, Schumann displayed behavior that could attract or repulse, with the interpretation of his conduct wandering between mental illness and syphilitic disease. The story is a gripping one.