Schumann is not really my favourite composer. He is mostly known for his songs and piano works. It just never touches me, no matter how romantic. This trio is a bit of a surprise though. Schumann wrote them during a for him uncharacteristically cheerful period in his life in 1847.
Schumann was born in 1810. He was supposed to get a lawyer’s degree, but he interrupted his studies and set out to become famous as a pianist. He took lessons Friedrich Wieck, but then he injured his hand, and saw his future destroyed. He took up composing instead, and with success.
He married the daughter of his teacher, Clara. He has to fight her father for her hand, in a long legal battle. The old Friedrich must have thought there was no money in composing. Clara gave him eight children, but for that she had to give up her own career: she was a gifted composer herself. In the last few years there is a bit more attention for her, as she created quite a few astounding works.
The couple play a central role in the European classical music scene. They befriended Johannes Brahms, himself also well connected.
Things didn’t go well for Schumann: he got fearful periods of depression, suffered a kind of tinnitus and regularly heard angel’s voices. It drove him to madness. After he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Rhine river, he asked to be admitted to a mental asylum. He died there in 1856.