“Since first seeing him, I think I am blind, Wherever I look, Him only I see.” These words open one of Robert Schumann’s greatest song cycles for voice and piano, “Frauenliebe und Leben” (A Woman’s Love and Life”). From this initial phrase, the whole emotional climate of the cycle is set.
This song cycle, composed of eight German art songs known as Lieder, a German song for solo voice and piano, is an expression of love. It follows the love journey of a woman for a man, from the first meeting, to marriage, through motherhood, and ending in her beloved’s death.
But it is so much more than that. It is the story of Schumann’s love for pianist Clara Wieck.
At 30 years old, Robert was madly in love with Clara but needed to persuade his future father-in-law that he was financially stable. As a result, Schumann composed with frenzy in the year leading up to his marriage,…