Rare Stories about Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann Anecdote
Robert Schumann Anecdote
Robert Schumann was a German composer and considered one of the most famous Romantic composers of the 19th century. Initially, he planned on becoming a virtuoso pianist, but after a hand injury, he focused his energy on composition. He was born in 1810 and died in 1856. He was confined to an asylum in 1854.

Kapellmeister Music

When Schumann had just finished [the piano quintet] Liszt unexpectedly came to Leipzig and insisted on hearing it performed the same night. ‘It was difficult’, Clara Schumann told us, ‘to get four other artists to come at such short notice, but I took a cab and drove about Leipzig until I was fortunate enough to succeed in my mission.’ It was arranged that the performance would take place at 7 o’clock that evening at the Schumann’s house. At that hour all were assembled with the exception of Liszt, who did not make his appearance until 9 o’clock. The quintet was duly played, but at the end Liszt moved towards Schumann and, patronizingly touching his shoulder, exclaimed: ‘No, no, my dear Schumann, this is not the real thing; it is only Kapellmeister music.’ At supper afterwards Liszt indulged in some deprecatory remarks about Mendelssohn. Schumann immediately arose, seized Liszt by the shoulder, and cried, ‘How dare you talk like that of our great Mendelssohn!’ He then left the room. Liszt, the polished man of the world, also rose, and bowing low to Clara Schumann, said: ‘I am deeply sorry to have been the cause of such an unpleasant incident. I feel I am in the wrong place here; pray accept my humble excuses and allow me to depart.’
(Edward Speyer. My Life and Friends. 1937, from The Book of Musical Anecdotes by Norman Liebrecht)

Clara the Pianist

One evening at Wieck's Schumann was anxious to hear some new Chopin's works which he had just received. Realizing that his lame finger rendered him incapable of playing he cried out despairingly: "Who will lend me their fingers?" "I will", said Clara, and she sat down and played the pieces for him. She lent him her fingers, and that is especially what she did for him through life in making his piano and chamber music compositions known.

Schumann the Poet?

Schumann once attended a masquerade during the carnival of 1830, in company with his friend Rosen, for the purpose of paying some attention to a pretty but otherwise insignificant girl. He knew that she would be present at the ball, and, as a pretext for approaching her, put a poem in his pocket. Fortune favored him: he met and recognized her; but, as he was about to take a carnival liberty, and hand her the poem, the girl’s mother stepped threateningly between, “Keep you poems to yourself, Mask: my daughter does not understand poetry.”
(Josef Wilhelm von Wasiliewski: Life of Robert Schumann. Boston, 1871.)


On Shrove Monday, 27 Feb. 1854, he received a noonday visit from his physician, Dr Hasenclever (a member of a board of health), and his musical friend, Albert Dietrich. They sat and chatted together sociably. During the conversation, Schumann, without a word, left the room. They supposed he would return; but when some time passed, and he did not come, his wife went in search of him. He was nowhere to be found. His friends hastened out to look for him – in vain. He had left the house in his dressing-gown and, bare headed, gone to the bridge that spans the Rhine, and sought to end his misery by plunging into the stream. Some sailors jumped into a boat, rowed after him, and pulled him out.
(Wasiliewski, op. cit.)