Happy Valentine’s Day

Clara Wieck

Clara Wieck lived in a time when courting and letters were a lover’s tools to woo.

In between writing musical compositions and going on tours around Europe as a young pianist, Clara fell in love.

Robert Schumann had been living in Clara’s house as a student of her father’s for years. But, as Sandra Shichtman and Dorothy Indenbaum wrote in The Joy of Creation: The Story of Clara Schumann, “[S]he was becoming a typical teenager…. Clara also began to show an interest in boys in general and one in particular–Robert Schumann.”

Robert Schumann

The idea of Clara’s focus being torn from her music unnerved her father, Friedrich Wieck. Wrote Shichtman and Indenbaum, “Perhaps she would not want to perform in the future, especially if she were to marry.”

And so Wieck decided to remove Clara from the situation. He sent her to study music in Dresden, Germany, while Robert stayed behind in Liepzig.

Shichtman and Indenbaum wrote:

While Clara was in Dresden, Robert began to go out with Ernestine von Fricken, a former student of Wieck’s who was now his wife’s student. Robert became secretly engaged to her in August 1834.

Clara was upset when she found out about the engagement. She had fallen in love with Robert. Now, he was engaged to marry someone else.

But the engagement did not last. When Ernestine’s father became ill in September, she returned home to care for him. While Ernestine was away from Leipzig, Robert became interested in Clara, who had returned from Dresden in July 1834. He decided to break off his engagement with Ernestine and courted Clara instead.

And so Clara and Robert began a courtship. A few months later, in November, Robert bestowed upon Clara a kiss, her first kiss.

“She was surprised and excited,” wrote Shichtman and Indenbaum. “She wrote to Robert, ‘When you gave me that first kiss, I thought I would faint; everything went blank and I could barely hold the lamp that was lighting your way out.'”

But Clara’s father was having none of it. He did not think Robert Schumann was good enough for his musical prodigy of a daughter. But Clara and Robert found ways to meet secretly. Wrote Shichtman and Indenbaum, “When Wieck found out, he threatened to shoot Robert if he ever approached Clara again.”

“It seemed Wieck had succeeded in keeping Clara and Robert apart permanently. But love would find a way.”

Clara and Robert had fallen in love, and they found a way to dupe her father. According to Shichtman and Indenbaum, they secretly exchanged letters.

“On August 14, 1837, the couple considered themselves engaged secretly and exchanged rings to commemorate the engagement.”

When Robert finally asked Wieck for Clara’s hand in marriage, Wieck refused.

“The battle lines were drawn between Wieck and the couple. It would become increasingly fierce and go on for two years.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Find out what happens between Clara and Robert: Check out The Joy of Creation: The Story of Clara Schumann by Sandra Shichtman and Dorothy Indenbaum (ISBN 9781599351230)

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Published in: on February 14, 2012 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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