Robert Schumann, one of the most beloved composers of the Romantic movement, embodied the passion and imaginative spirit of his age. Known for his musical and literary genius and his legendary romance with his wife Clara, Schumann was also plagued with debilitative bouts of depression that led him to live his last days in a German mental asylum. This important new biography recreates the dynamics of this man and his music with unprecedented range, offering new insight into his final years and his lasting musical achievements. Drawing on Schumann's recently published journals, letters, and new research, author Eric Jensen renders a balanced portrait of the composer with both scholarly authority and engaging clarity. Biographical chapters alternate with commentary on Schumann's piano, choral, symphonic, and operatic works, demonstrating how the circumstances of his life helped shape the music he wrote at various periods. Chronicling the forbidden romance of Robert and Clara, Jensen offers a nuanced look at the evolution of their relationship. He also follows Schuman's creative musical criticism, which championed the burgeoning careers of Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms and challenged the musical tastes of nineteenth-century Europe. Most importantly, he presents new evidence that Schumann--locked away in the asylum at Endenich--had returned sufficiently to health to justify his removal from confinement a year before his death. Like the innovations of his final compositions from 1845-1854, his sanity was overlooked and misunderstood by his contemporaries. Jensen corrects the historical record, illuminating the tragedy of Schumann's final days and refuting the common dismissal of his final works as the result of an unstable mind. A significant addition to music literature, Schumann is the first authoritative biography of the composer written for general readers as well as music students and historians.
- Electronic book text | 405 pages
- 01 Dec 2005
- Oxford University Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
About Eric Frederick Jensen
Eric Frederick Jensen was educated at Kent School and the Eastman School of Music, where he received a doctorate in musicology in 1982. He has written extensively about Robert Schumann for The Musical Times, 19th-Century Music, and The Musical Quarterly. He is the author of Walls of Circumstance, which examined the lives and music of eleven nineteenth-century composers.