Robert Schumann

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Robert Schumann, 1850.

Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and pianist.


  • To send light into the depths of the human heart -- this is the artist's calling!
    • Quotes in: John Sullivan Dwight (1856) Dwight's Journal of Music, Vol. 7-8, p. 12
    • Original: Licht senden in die Tiefen des menschlichen Herzens -- des Künstlers Beruf!; Quoted in E.W. Fritzsch (1884) Musikalisches Wochenblatt, Volume 15
  • Sometimes I am so full of music, and so overflowing with melody, that I find it simply impossible to write down anything.
    • Early Letters of Robert Schumann (1888), p. 82
  • The talent works, the genius creates.
    • Attributed to Schumann in: The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 112, 1913, p. 811
  • In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.
    • Quoted in: Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, Evan Esar (ed.), 1949, p. 156.
  • Perhaps genius alone understands genius fully. (Sometimes translated as: Perhaps only genius fully understands genius)
    • Original: Vielleicht versteht nur der Genius den Genius ganz, Robert Schumann, Advice to Young Musicians, translation of Musikalische Haus- und Lebens-Regeln, translated by Henry Hugo Pierson, Leipsic & New York: J. Schuberth & Co., 1860.

Quotes about Schumann

  • Schumann’s writing for the piano is very orchestral, and sometimes does not lie so easily under the hands. But it is still very well written for the piano and the technique he demands perhaps suits me better than Chopin’s.
    • Angela Hewitt, "Famous Pianists on Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann" (2010) by G. Henle Verlag
  • [A]lmost every simple piece of Schumann’s has a hidden secret (with few exceptions, for example the Arabesque). Such a seemingly easy piece like “Des Abends” or some of the pieces from “Kinderszenen” can only be played by accomplished musicians.
    • Elisabeth Leonskaja, "Famous Pianists on Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann" (2010) by G. Henle Verlag
  • Schumann‘s piano music is conceived more instrumentally, not necessarily for piano. This is true of Beethoven and Brahms too.
    • Ming-Qiang Li, "Famous Pianists on Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann" (2010) by G. Henle Verlag
  • Schumann is the most representative musical figure of central European Romanticism as much because of his limitations as because of his genius: in his finest works, indeed, he exploited these limitations in such a way that they gave a force to his genius that no other contemporary could attain.
    • Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation (1995), Ch. 12 : Schumann: Triumph and Failure of the Romantic Ideal
  • Schumann’s piano settings mostly evolve around the middle range of the piano keyboard, and lastly also for that reason his music is much more difficult to play. Often enough the result is mediocre sound (in both senses of the word) if you do not work strongly on highlighting the individual lines of the texture.
    • Christian Zacharias, "Famous Pianists on Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann" (2010) by G. Henle Verlag
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