Schumann, Robert Alexander

At the home of Dr. Carus he met Friedrich Wieck, whose daughter, Clara, a child of nine, was already noted as a pianist. Schumann took some lessons of him, but as Wieck's time was very full, he had to drop them early in 1829. He also wrote what he called Jean Pauliads, effusions based on the style of his favorite author. At Easter he followed Rosen to Heidelberg, which, through its nearness to France, Italy and Switzerland, was an especially attractive location. On the way thither Schumann met a congenial acquaintance, Willibald Alexis, for whom he formed a sudden attachment, carrying it to such an extent as to go with him down the Rhine on a pleasure trip. At Heidelberg he went on excursions with a few kindred spirits, taking with him in the carriage a dumb keyboard, on which he practised five-finger exercises. He improvised much for his companions and made deep impressions on them by his playing. He appeared in public once, at a concert given by a musical society in Heidelberg (playing Moscheles* Variations on the Alexander March), and afterward received many other invitations to play in public, all of which he declined. Professor Thibaut, a cultivated lover of music, finally advised Schumann to give up law and follow art. Meanwhile the somewhat boisterous and unrestrained pleasures of German student life, at first repulsive to Schumann, began to attract him, and he indulged too freely in smoking, drinking, and spending beyond his means, although never to such an extent as to bring himself into disrepute. There is little doubt that at this time were sown the seeds of the disease that finally proved fatal. During this time he wrote several students' songs, which are considered most vividly expressive of the life and of the spirit of his associations. In his third year he tried to settle down to study, but cramming was too late to make up the time he had lost, and he finally threw all hesitation aside and wrote to his mother a most persuasive letter, declaring his desire for a musical career to be stronger than ever. His feeling is shown in a letter written in November, 1829, in these words: "All that I have ever done in music seems like a beautiful dream which I can hardly believe has ever existed. And yet, believe me, if ever I could have done any good in the world, it would have been in music, and I feel sure, without at all overrating my capabilities, that I have got creative power. But earning one's bread is another thing."

In this letter to his mother he begged her to write Wieck, asking a candid opinion of his fitness for the musical profession, and promised to abide by the decision of his former teacher. His mother's letter to Wieck shows that real anxiety for her son's welfare, caused by apprehension of the uncertainties of a musician's life and not mere obstinacy, dictated her previous opposition to his wishes. Wieck's reply satisfied both; Schumann was to go on, preparing for the career of a piano virtuoso, for he believed in his own powers in this direction, though faith in his creative power was not yet fully awakened. He had devoured music, as he did poetry, for its beauty, without caring to analyze its structure, and had ignored theory. Now he must take up the latter study under Heinrich Dorn, as well as piano under Wieck; but only in later years did he realize the value of the less attractive branch of study.