This woman does not need to be defended by any feminist
K a gender asterisk, not a politically correct capitalization. Here and now, on her 200th birthday. In Clara Schumann’s 19th birthday, it’s all about one woman: the greatest, most famous artist to grace Germany in the 19. Century brought forth.
The majority in this country has had her in hand before. For until the euro, the severely parted beauty with the gentle eyes adorned the last new edition of the 100-mark bill.
Woman and art?
Germany only? Even outside its small-state, later empire borders (Clara Schumann has experienced everything), few similarly epochal gender comrades can be found. The woman and the art, that was hardly allowed to be then.
In France there were the writing ladies Madame de Stael and George Sand as well as the painting Monet sister-in-law Berthe Morisot, who admittedly hardly stood out in public. In England, Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters wrote poetry under pseudonyms.
Then there were the singers, actresses and dancers, ladies rarely considered respectable, with mostly briefly flaring careers. Only, back in France, the contralto Pauline Viardot-Garcia, who came from a vocal dynasty, was able to make a name and reputation for herself for a long time, also thanks to her wealthy husband. By the way, she was well acquainted with Clara Schumann.
Clara Wieck, married Schumann, born on 13. September 1819 at Leipzig’s Neuer Neumarkt, died on the 20th century. May 1896 in Frankfurt am Main, was 76 years old. Of which she spent 63 years playing in public, first as a nine-year-old in 1828, last in 1891.
She was a child prodigy, piano virtuoso, keyboard star, repertoire shaper, composer, editor. But as a role model of the female musicology, which she vehemently appropriated, as a free spirit carrying the torch of emancipation, she is suitable for this only to a very limited extent.
She entered new territory
She led too much of a German life for that. She created space for herself and rebelled, even fought in court for her marital happiness, long denied by her business-minded, lordly father.
She broke new ground, occupied a male domain as the most celebrated pianist of her time, and in the process developed from a nimble-fingered girl into a highly respected interpreter.
But Clara Schumann was also a wife and mother. Not only of eight children (one died early) plus a miscarriage, but actually also of a ninth, already at the age of 16: her husband Robert. She had to submit, give in, adapt…
She had to satisfy Schumann’s petty pedantic jealousy and marital needs, bring up the children, run the household in a distant manner, as was usual at that time, earn the money again and again, be maitresse, muse and companion.
Thus in the naturally unfulfillable double function as wife and respectable artist, only in this way could she rise to the rank she holds to this day. A domestic saint of the Germans – but just as a silent star.
The composer wasted away
For the compromise, the acceptance of the circumstances, the being caught between a dominant father and a snivelling husband, denied her the glamorous pop star aura of a Franz Liszt, who respected her very highly, at eye level, and it probably caused the composer to wither away, which is what her combative gender comrades mourn the most.
What was forbidden even to the rich Fanny Mendelssohn, married Hensel, was also forbidden to her, for whom music was not only her livelihood, but also the family’s livelihood as the sole breadwinner for the most part. She simply had no time.
And later – it was also the bad conscience, because she, on the advice of the doctors, had not visited the deranged, suicidal man for two years until shortly before his death in the Endenich asylum – she knitted prudently and insistently on the posthumous fame and the legend of her husband.
Robert Schumann, whose piano works had already made her decisively famous during her lifetime, only became famous at the end of the 19th century. The composer was the most romantic of all romantics at the end of the nineteenth century, because he was the one who lost himself the most. What the patented Clara had to pay the heaviest price for. But also with (de)formed.
She and her oldest daughter Marie, who was the most faithful support, censored and partly burned the correspondence; nevertheless not only the spring symphony and the song year 1840 together with the long-awaited marriage resonate in the German soul as the most beautiful poetry of togetherness, but still enough written heartfelt poetry of great poetry.
Swarmed by all romantics
The late compositions of her husband, who was slipping into syphilitic madness, which contemporaries did not like, the Ghost Variations or the Violin Concerto, were shamefully suppressed by Clara.
The young, beautiful woman, idolized not only by Robert, but by all the romantics in Leipzig, has become an icon today in the flattering paintings, but also in the film embodiments of Hilde Krahl, Katharine Hepburn and Nastassja Kinski, as a strained and overburdened wife Martina Gedeck looks at us like a bitter Madonna of pain with a look of renunciatory misery.