Clara Schumann was an extraordinary woman. She was an outstanding concert pianist, in demand all over Europe. Even when Robert Schumann was alive she was the family’s primary bread-winner as well as bearing eight children, managing the household finances and for much of the time caring for Robert. Brahms was introduced to the household by the great violinist, Joseph Joachim, barely a year before Robert’s breakdown. After Robert’s attempted suicide and incarceration in Endenich Sanatorium, Brahms became Clara’s knight in shining armour by taking over her household duties, entertaining the children and visiting Robert, whom she was forbidden to visit. Brahms’ presence enabled Clara to return to her concert life both to provide an income and to bring her husband’s music to a wider audience. After Robert died in the summer of 1856, Brahms took Clara on a family holiday in Switzerland at a time when the pair could reasonably have considered marriage. This never happened despite their evident love for each other. They remained the closest of friends all their lives and, indeed, Brahms, despite being fourteen years younger than Clara, died less than a year after her. Clara was the closest confidante and muse of two of the greatest composers of her age so her own compositions took third place behind them and her performing career. Her Three Romances were written for Robert’s birthday in 1853 and were performed by Joachim, the other member of that quartet of musical geniuses.
European Broadcast 8pm Irish Standard Time
North American Broadcast 8pm ET (1am Irish Standard Time)
On Demand will become available after the conclusion of the North American broadcast for 48 hours (12 June 2am – 14 June 2am IST)
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