Meet Clara, the lovely Piano Lady on the Bench! This fabulous art deco likeness of Clara Weick Schumann (1819-1896) began as the front page of piano sheet music (for all you piano enthusiasts out there, it was from Robert Schumann’s “Träumerei” from Kinderszenen, Op. 15. This version of the sheet music was published in 1912, about 15 years after Clara’s death.) Träumerei is the German word for dreaming… and indeed there was quite a bit of dreaming (amidst the turbulence) in the love affair of Clara and Robert. Kindly please allow me to digress!
Born in Leipzig Germany, Clara was a woman way, way, way ahead of her time. As a child, she did not speak until the age of 4. In a time when divorce was a social no-no, her parents, after extended bouts of arguments, divorced when Clara was five. Being self absorbed and finding herself lost in the dreamy world of music, she simply did not need to speak, music said it all.
Clara’s father, Friedrich Wieck, was a stern but respectable educator who had been a tutor to the children within a few households of high social standing. Thus Clara had access to a masterful level of teaching as a young child. And then there was the piano! Mr. Wieck, who himself only had a couple of piano lessons, developed a style of teaching that would soon turn Clara into a child prodigy as well as bring musicians from near and far who wished to study music with him.
Clara began performing in public at the age of 8 to great acclaim. By age 12, she began “going on the road”, managed by her serious, unrelenting father. Travel in the day was a bit grueling – horse and carriage! When you got to the chosen destination, lodging had to be secured, then networking would begin to find venues and dates for performances. Concerts in the 1830’s were not like today – let’s save that topic for a later date. But Friedrich took great care of his daughter, as any doting stage parent would. And Clara loved it – she had trunks of lovely gowns to wear, and was treated like royalty! While in Paris, the ‘Torte a la Wieck’ was a favorite Parisian pastry created in her honor; poetry was written for and about her; when she played concerts, the police had to be called in to control the crowds. Chopin exclaimed that she was the only woman in Germany who can play his music, and Mendelssohn considered her his favorite pianist. She played for the Aristocracy to great acclaim and was even named Honorary Court Virtuoso to the Austrian Imperial Court. She was indeed a rock star! But it was on the homefront that she would meet the love of her life.
Robert Schumann came to live in the Wieck household to study music with the legendary Friedrich Wieck (the household was large enough to include boarders.) Clara was just 11 at the time, and Robert was 9 years her senior. He held great respect for Clara’s talent. They were just ‘good friends’ while she was still a young girl, but by the time she was 16, well, cupid shot the arrow and what ensued over the next few years was a tug of war between a disapproving father, a love-struck talented composer, and an amazing young lady – an accomplished, brilliant artist whose reputation reached far and wide. What Clara and Robert endured for love: this is an amazing story of the strength of love. Stay tuned!
About the ‘piano lady’ image: in the early 2000’s I was searching for a logo for my company Classical Entertainment Inc. My fabulous web designer (Lisa from Savvy Dog) found the image in clip art, on the front a piece of sheet music. I swooned when she showed it to me and immediately said “That’s it!” So Lisa set about making a few changes to customize it for my needs, editing it for online usage. And how cool is this: while I am a classically trained pianist, a few years back I put together a lecture-demo on the life of Clara Schumann and her life with Robert and a few other interesting tid bits we will discover at a later date. Stay tuned!
About the other ‘piano lady’ photo: this is moi, in costume, performing during the opening months of the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas in 1999. It was super fun to be part of the original ‘Streetmosphere’ performance team and have such a lovely costume. It almost looks like the gown as depicted in the Clara image!
If you are searching for the right fit, something unique, something that allows you to take part in the creation stage, then reach out! I’m here, waiting to brainstorm with you!