Clara Schumann (1819 – 1896) was a German pianist, composer and piano teacher from the Romantic period of music.
Although she was not widely recognised as a composer for many years after her death, she made a lasting impression. She was one of the first pianists to perform from memory, making it the standard for concerts ever since. She also promoted the works of her husband, Robert Schumann, tirelessly throughout her life.
A concerto is a piece for a solo instrumentalist and orchestra. This concerto was written for piano solo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, timpani, violins, violas, cellos, and basses. This orchestration was typical of early Romantic music. It was first performed in 1835 in Leipzig, Germany.
Isata Kanneh-Mason, the soloist in today’s extract said this about Clara:
“The more I read about Clara, the more inspiring she was to me. I like to think of her as the Beyoncé of her day: a successful artist, capable of balancing motherhood with touring, married to a fellow musician and a truly independent woman! What I found most astonishing was her strength … Clara’s music is for everyone and I hope it continues to be played by men and woman alike. She is a towering figure in classical music history and deserves to be heard more”.
Learn more about Clara’s extraordinary life here.