200th Birthday Greeting to Robert Schumann
By Harley Schlanger
Clara Schumann (1819-1896) and Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Two hundred years ago today, Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau, in the Kingdom of Saxony. As Michelle Rasmussen demonstrates in her “Robert and Clara Schumann, and Their Teacher Johann Sebastian Bach”, Robert and his wife Clara were dedicated students of the contrapuntal compositional method of Bach, and were committed to not just preserving it, but advancing it.
In alliance with Felix Mendelssohn and the extensive networks he organized (see David Shavin's article, “The Musical Soul of Scientific Creativity”), which lawfully intersected scientific networks associated with Alexander von Humboldt and the Gauss-Dirichlet-Riemann revival of the tradition of Leibnizian dynamics, Schumann provides a golden example of the creative artist, committed to future generations. In order to keep alive the Bach tradition, he and his wife, along with their dear friend, Johannes Brahms, were forced to engage in mortal combat against the most degenerate network of the tradition of Paolo Sarpi in the arts, the so-called modernist romantic movement of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner.
Schumann, in his music and his writings of musical criticism, was the consummate creative artist, a true humanist. This is best known from studying his Lieder (art song), in which he set to music the most advanced poetic ideas in the German language, advancing an art form dense with ironic singularities, yet maintaining a unity of concept.
Let his birthday be a day of celebration of that which is uniquely creative in human beings, as we pledge to add meaning to his life, by advancing his, and his wife's, beautiful work. Their view on this was summarized in a letter written to Robert by Clara, at the time of their engagement, when she was 18. In it, she laments having to participate in soirees for the society set, in which “I have to play to people for a few pretty words and a cup of warm water, and arrive home, dead tired, at 11 or 12 o'clock, have a sip of water, lie down and think, `Is an artist much more than a beggar?'
“Yet,” she continues, “Art is a beautiful gift. What is more beautiful than to clothe one's feelings in sound, what a comfort in sad hours, what a pleasure, what a wonderful feeling, to provide an hour of happiness to others. And what a sublime feeling to pursue art so that one gives one's life for it.”
Greetings to the Celebration of Schumann's 200th Birthday in Virginia by Helga Zepp-LaRouche
The Musical Soul of Scientific Creativity: Rebecca Dirichlet’s Development of the Complex Domain (PDF 1.2 MB) by David Shavin
200 Year News Flash! Schumann Sighted at His Own Birthday Fest in Virginia! by Aaron Halevy (PDF)