notes from the past: the letters between robert and clara


(This snippet is interesting not only because of how it adds more depth of detail to the relationship between Robert and Clara, but also because it reminds us what a prestigious performer Clara Schumann was, a fact which is often overlooked/understated.)

“I gave my fourth concert this afternoon, and I played pieces by Liszt and Thalberg to silence those that thought I couldn’t play Thalberg. There were 13 curtain calls, and not even Thalberg experienced that. It was probably because the people in the audience were generally indignant about an article claiming that I didn’t know how to play Beethoven, a rumor started by Mr. Holz, Beethoven’s former shoeshine-boy. You can imagine the hubbub; just wait and see what will happen to him–he offended all who are knowledgeable about music and the entire audiences. You probably won’t understand the public’s enthusiasm here, since you don’t know what I’m accomplishing and since you don’t know me well enough as an artist. But don’t think I am angry with you for this; on the contrary, I am happy to know that you don’t love me because of my talent, but, as you once wrote on a little piece of paper, ‘I don’t love you because you are a great artist; no, I love you, because you are so kind.’ That pleased me immensely, and I have never forgotten it.” – Clara Wieck, to Robert Schumann, January 1838

Source: The Complete Correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann, edited by Eva Weissweiler (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1994).

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