“Suffering in life is like dissonance in music,” Robert Schumann once jokingly wrote, “it’s exciting, but it does call for resolution.” Schumann was one of the most important composers of the Romantic period as well as a writer on music of high standing. His early compositional output was centered around piano music, where he sought to combine tradition with novel sound worlds.

“More theoretical than practical reason. Strong power of imagination,” was how the young composer described himself. His life was characterized by ups and downs between euphoria and depression; even his marriage to Clara Wieck was unable to calm his emotional life. Nonetheless, his creative imagination found expression in symphonies, orchestral works, and other large-scale compositions, while the great originality of his late works was long misunderstood - they were thought to be “confused” and “the product of nervous illness.” These prejudices were finally definitively dispelled in the 20th century, when the innovative qualities of his music were recognized.

© Helmut Jasbar, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • 1810 - Robert Schumann is born on June 8 in Zwickau

  • 1837 - The Phantasiestücke, op. 12 and Kinderszenen, op. 15, two masterpieces, are composed

  • 1841 - Spring Symphony, op. 38

  • 1846 - Premiere of his Piano Concerto in A minor

  • 1852 - Mass, op. 147 and Requiem, op. 148

  • 1853 - Songs of Dawn, op. 133, Violin Concerto

  • 1854 - Schumann jumps from a bridge into the Rhine, but is rescued

  • 1856 - Robert Schumann dies on July 29 in Endenich, Rhine Province.

Did you know?

  • Cosima Wagner: “Yesterday the tea kettle was whistling peculiar themes. Richard thought that this is what Schumann had been listening to.”

  • “In order to compose, all you need is to remember a melody that no one has thought of yet.”

  • After pounding his piano, Schumann wrote: “I’m beside myself - piano broken.”

  • After a successful concert performed by his wife Clara, an aristocrat asked Robert Schumann, “And what about you, Herr Schumann, are you musical, too?”

  • Instead of attending law lectures, Schumann drinks champagne. The days start out with a “terrible hangover,” the evenings end with “puking.”

  • “Be modest! You haven’t invented or thought of anything that others before you haven’t already thought and invented.”

  • “Play in time. Some virtuosos play the way drunk people walk. Don’t follow their example.”