The Marriage Diaries of Robert & Clara Schumann

Publisher / date: Northeastern University Press (Boston), 1993
pages: xxv + 416
genre: diary

On this date, 13 September, was born Clara Wieck — renowned in her time as a superb pianist; known to posterity as the wife of composer Robert Schumann.

I once belonged to a music book club – one of those where you’d have the chance to get a book every month, or decline that month’s selection, or buy something else other than the month’s selection. That was how I found and bought this book — bought ever so long ago. For I moved and the book club never followed…

So I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, as the book is one read too long ago. Yet there is nothing more immediate than a publication of diaries. And here, at the beginning of their life together, we have the opportunity to join a wedding journey, hearing not only Robert Schumann’s thoughts, but also those of Clara — who gave up so much to marry him, including her musical career.

Today Google published a Birthday Celebration for Clara Schumann — a young lady at her keyboard, with a lap filled with children:

In the book, the fight with papa Wieck is all past; the children are yet to come; Robert is well and happy; Clara is… well, she can tell you in her own words. Originally published in German, this edition is edited by Gerd Nauhaus, and translated by Peter Ostwald.

The book opens with Robert Schumann, writing on 13 September 1840: “My dearly beloved young wife…” They had married just the day before. Diary III ends in January 1844, with the arrival of Father. The book then continues with the Russian Trip Diary – a journey undertaken from January until the end of May 1844, in which Clara Schumann records: ” The 25th. Beginning today I will copy from Robert’s travel diary; if we were to write everything down in detail, we would have no time left over…”

Music – Travel – Good Company.


A taste of the diary’s contents:

On Monday the 11th [July 1842] Marschner was at our house, but without his wife, who was ill. I was in a very bad mood that night, to which Marschner contributed a lot, because with his daughter he had brought a thirteenth person to our table, so that we had to divide the company between two tables. The particular superstition about thirteen at the table is still very widespread, and no one likes to challenge it.
There was singing again, and I also played a sonta by Beethoven. [p156]