On Music and Musicians

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University of California Press, 1983 - Music - 274 pages
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Reviews of specific compositions are accompanied by Schumann's articles and epigrams on all aspects of music

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About the author (1983)

Born in Zwickau, Germany, Robert Schumann hoped early in his career to become a piano virtuoso. That dream was shattered in 1832, however, when he sustained permanent injury to his right hand while using a finger-strengthening device that he had invented. Thereafter, he devoted his energies to composition. His first compositions, the Toccata, Paganini studies, and Intermezzi, were published in 1833. A year later, he founded and edited Neue Leipzige Zeitschrift fur Musik, a music magazine that became influential in its support of romanticism. Schumann's attachment to Clara Wieck (the future Clara Schumann), the daughter of his piano teacher, was frowned upon by her disapproving father, who considered Schumann unsuitable. Despite this opposition, the two were married in 1849. The Schumanns made several concert tours together, with Clara performing the premieres of many of Robert's works. Schumann is especially noted for his cycles of piano music, particularly Papillons (1829-31), Carnaval (1834-35), and Phantasiestucke (1837). His works are marked by imaginative power, with beautiful melodies and harmonies, and they embody the romantic spirit that prevailed at the time. During the latter part of his life, Schumann worked as an orchestral conductor in Dresden and Dusseldorf. In 1854 his health began to decline and he was plagued by symptoms of mental illness that had recurred throughout his life. That same year, fearing for his sanity, he threw himself into the Rhine river. He was rescued by fishermen and taken to an asylum, where he died two years later.

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