Robert and Clara Schumann in Berlin

The capital city of Prussia and art metropolis Berlin were in many ways an attractive place for Clara and Robert Schumann, even if the idea of a place of activity could not be realized. First, there were family connections that made Clara move here.

Since the parents' separation in 1824 she lived with her father in Leipzig. Only in April 1835 she was allowed to visit her mother for the first time in Berlin. Latter lived here with her second husband, the music teacher Adolph Bargiel, Unter den Linden 27 (cf. Berlin Adress books for 1835 and 1836: http://digital.zlb.de/ & http://digital.zlb.de/. I would like to thank Ms Theresa Schlegel  for the information, I. B., May 2017)

Das Krollsche Etablissement in Berlin-Tiergarten
[Fig. 1] Kroll establishment in Berlin-Tiergarten, Lithograph by Ludwig Eduard Lütke, ca. 1845, bpk

Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann found during their time of engagement a warm welcome in Bargiel family and "consolation through persuasion",  as taken from the entry in the diary No. 11 on 29 July 1839.

"Would you not like to move to Berlin? I really liked it there so well", Robert wrote in his letter to Clara of 7 August 1839 and a few days later he praised in a letter to Henriette Voigt, Berlin's architecture and people. Thus they spent harmonious Christmas days of 1839 with Mariane and Adolph Bargiel in Berlin, although the time was marred by the bitter dispute with Friedrich Wieck, who did not considered Robert Schumann as appropriate son in law. While Robert had to go back alone to Leipzig, Clara lived with her mother in Berlin until her marriage. 

Fig. 2: Robert Schumann, portrait by Kriehuber, 1839, music division

On 25 January and 1 February 1840, Clara Wieck held two soirees with works of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and an own composition [NZfM XII, No. 18, p. 70]. As early as 31 October of last year she had given a very successful concert at the Royal Theatre, in which the king was present.

Again and again Robert Schumann was returning to Berlin and he visited his fiancée Clara several times in spring 1840. On 1 May 1840 he noted in one of the three budget books, which are located in the Schumann-estate of the Berlin State Library: "... when I returned from Berlin after happy days." (cf. Robert Schumann, Tagebücher, Band III, Haushaltsbücher Teil 1, 1837-1847, ed. by G. Nauhaus, Leipzig 1982, p. 114)

Already in January 1840, Friedrich Wieck’s allegations of denial of martial consent were rejected by the appellate court in Leipzig. Finally, the couple Robert and Clara was allowed by court decision a future together and on 12 September 1840, they got married. Later, the family Schumann was often visited by Mariane Bargiel, in particular to assist Clara with or after birth and temporarily took care of some of the grandchildren after Robert’s death.

In addition to the familial relations with Berlin, also professional milestones are recorded here. On 17 February 1847 the successful performance of Schumann’s oratorio “Das Paradies und die Peri” (The Paradise and the Peri) with the Sing Academy took place. The music writer Flodoard Geyer wrote in his review: "Finally, to Dr. Schumann our personal respect for this work, this will certainly smooth the way for other inexplicably lesser-known creations!" [Berliner Musikalische Zeitung, 4th volume, No. 9 of 27 February 1847]

The Schumann lived at that time in Dresden. Robert’s hopes for a regular employment and new career challenges were not met there. He was considering a change of scenery, and put Berlin into consideration. The couple Schumann had contact to the salons of Berlin and the artistic circles of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Fanny and Wilhelm Hensel, Henriette Sontag and Pauline Viardot.

[Fig. 3] Clara Schumann, around 1847, Pensil drawing by Wilhelm Hensel, Museum of Prints and Drawings, bpk

But after the news of the untimely death of Fanny Hensel on 14 May 1847, which had become a close confidant of Clara's, the plan of moving to Berlin was rejected again. Only in 1850, Robert took his new place of work in Düsseldorf, where he was appointed to the position as municipal director of music.

A lasting relationship of the couple Schumann to Berlin finally was established only after the death of Robert by the conferment of the sources to the Royal Library. Clara took a few years of consideration before she made this decision and she had hard times in chosing the right placa that is the "dignified and safe place" to store and maintain the manuscripts of her husband. Other cities such as Frankfurt / Main and Leipzig were also considered, but she opted for Berlin.

Through the acquisition of music manuscripts of famous composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, the Berlin Royal Library had an excellent reputation. Since 1842 existed an independent music department, which with its budget was pursuing the planned acquisition of printed music and literature.
http://staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/musikabteilung/geschichte.html

Thus Clara finally gave the estate to the Royal Library in Berlin as a deposit, six years before her death in October 1890. Thanks to the generous financial support by the Berlin publisher and bookseller Hermann Paetel the autographs were finally purchased for the library in 1904. They formed the foundation for today's Schumann collection in the Berlin State Library.

[Fig. 4] Program of the concert Clara Schumann/Josef Joachim on 23.01.1889, music division
„Akzessionsjournal“, see No. 601
[Fig. 5] „Akzessionsjournal“, see No. 601

(Text: Marina Schieke-Gordienko, consultant for music, State library of Berlin – Prussian cultural heritage, music division with Mendelssohn archive)

(Translated by Katharina Ma)

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