One finds in the life of Robert Schumann all of the ingredients necessary to have the  romantic life of mercurial brilliance that ends abruptly and too soon.  Schumann, a German composer born in 1810 (along with Chopin) lived only forty-six years dying in 1856 in an insane asylum.  He rejected his family’s desire to study law  after trying it for two years, and came back to his true interest and passion- music.  He had aspirations of being a concert pianist but permanently injured his fourth finger and had to give up that career choice, and so turned to composition.  He married his piano teacher’s daughter much against her father’s wishes, but they found true happiness and were devoted to each other.  She also was a musician and accomplished pianist but more about her next week!  There is much speculation as to what caused Schumann’s mental breakdown.  Some attribute it to bi-polar disorder, others think he may have had a tumor, and others think it was possibly mercury poisoning.  His music reveals clearly the style of the Romantic era, with extreme dynamic changes, extra-musical references to literature and stories, beautiful lyric melodies and complex rhythms and harmonies.

Schumann wrote many significant works for the piano but also wrote four symphonies, Lieder (songs) along with choral and instrumental and chamber music.  In addition to being a composer he was also an influential music critic and founded and was editor of a music journal called Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik translated New Journal for Music.

Symphonic Etudes Op. 13 played by Ilya Rashkovsky