Clara Schumann | Nashville Public Radio

Clara Schumann

Kara McLeland / 91Classical

Fresh out of a performance at our 200th Birthday Festival Concert for Clara Schumann these Blair School of Music students are still giving enthusiastic and heartfelt performances of Schumann's Opus 12 and 13 lieder.

Pianist Alessandra Volpi fearlessly took on the piano part last season in Nashville Ballet's performance of Stravinsky's Duo Concertant. This weekend she'll be performing the concerto of another icon: Clara Schumann. While she was in final preparations for the performance she took the time to answer our six questions.

91Classical / Wikimedia Commons

Clara Schumann isn’t the only woman who made a big mark on classical music in the 19th century. The norms of the day discouraged “respectable women” from being professional musicians, and societal discomfort with female composers and performers often meant that fame faded quickly after their death or retirement, but here is a sample of women from the era whose talent and drive pushed past the boundaries set in their way. 


Clara Schumann was both one of the most sought-after piano soloists of the Romantic era and a composer of note as well. Even though we have no recordings of her legendary playing, over 1,300 programs of hers and her husband Robert Schumann have been preserved. 

Nina Cardona / 91Classical

In addition to their energized performance, Belmont Camerata also brought their observations about how the love between Robert and Clara Schumann was reflected in their music.

Colleen Phelps / 91Classical

Clara Schumann was in her mid-30s when she lost her husband, first to mental illness and then to an early death. While it was a tragic end to a compelling love story, it was also the beginning of a new phase in Clara's work as a pianist.

Colleen Phelps / 91Classical

The pages of classical music history are littered with the stories of prodigies. Mozart playing by ear at age 4, Beethoven’s debut at 7, Bizet entering conservatory at 10. Clara Wieck Schumann, who started piano lessons at 5, almost seems like she began late. But her debut at age 9 and her first international tour at 12, combined with the longevity and breadth of her 61-year performing career, has left her with a lasting influence over the art of piano playing.

Colleen Phelps / 91Classical

Roughly a century before Tennessee secured the right to vote for American women, across the Atlantic a woman was born who would quietly make a huge mark on the world of music.