CONCERTO: The Glowing Story of Clara Schumann by Bertita Harding

CONCERTO: The Glowing Story of Clara Schumann

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The breath of life has been used into the love story of Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann, and all the makings of a fairy tale romance are here:- two gifted young people held apart by a stern, uncompromising father, and the dodges by which they fanned the flame of love and kept in touch during years when Friedrich Wieck thought he had achieved his goal- that of keeping his daughter dedicated to the muse of her art. Bertita Harding has in the main resisted the fictionization of the story, and has used hitherto untapped resources in a rich correspondence and pages from successive diaries to make Clara and Robert speak for themselves. Clara- after the marriage (the right won in the law courts)- found herself in an ambivalent position. Pregnancies (they had a very large family) interfered with her concert programs, but even more vital was her wish to add to her husband's laurels, to push his compositions, to gain him recognition. When his mental breakdown caused their permanent separation, she was forced into putting her music first once again; only her concert engagements financed the family. And those years Bertita Harding has handled objectively, seeing Clara as an artist with one central goal; her children ""farmed out"", with little thought on her part of the disastrous effect it would have on them, her husband institutionalized, her friendship with the self-abnegatory Brahms used for her own- not his ends. The very honesty of the portrait, made credible by careful analysis of the changes as they came, gives authenticity to the whole picture. This biography is set in the frame of musical history; other figures cross and recross the stage; the political scene too is given its moments. But in the main this is a biography for music lovers and the cognescenti.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1961
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill