Robert Schumann

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Robert Schumann

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

Schumann home.

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.

With a

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...