Robert Alexander Schumann was born in the small riverside town of
Zwickau, Saxony, in 1810.The youngest of five children, Robert Schumann
was brought up in comfortable, middle-class respectability. As a child, he
apparently exhibited no remarkable abilities.
At the age of six, Robert was sent to the local preparatory school, run
by Archdeacon Dohner. He had in fact already begun his education, with the
young tutor who gave lessons in exchange for board and lodging at the
At the age of seven Robert received his first piano lessons, from
Johann Gottfried Kuntzsch, organist at St. Mary's Church, and schoolmaster
at the Zwickau Lyceum. Kuntzsch was a kindly, conservative musician of
limited abilities; his knowledge stemmed from leisure-time study.
Nevertheless, Robert was soon improvising, and even composing a set of
dances for the piano.
Robert's musical talent was recognized by his father. He bought an
expensive Streicher grand piano for his son, and soon four-handed
arrangements of the classics were heard in the Schumann home.
friend named Friedrich Piltzing, another pupil of Kuntzch's, Robert started to
explore Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
As a child, Schumann took part in several concerts at the Zwickau
Lyceum. He once played Moscheles' Alexander March variations, which
demanded considerable dexterity.
At the public Lyceum Robert was active as both pianist and public
speaker. When he was fourteen, Kuntzsch decided that his pupil had
progressed beyond the point where he could give further help, and declined to
teach him anymore.
Shortly before leaving the Lyceum, Schumann collaborated with his
brother Karl in preparing a new edition of Forcellini's Latin dictionary,
Lexicon Totius Latinatinis.
Although now very busy as a composer, Robert yearned for affection.
He soon fell for seventeen-year-old Ernestine von Fricken, who came to
Leipzig in April 1834 to...