Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.
Schumann’s published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works.
Works such as Carnaval, Symphonic Studies, Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, and the Fantasie in C are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded. He wrote many of the articles himself, using the pseudonyms Florestan and Eusebius.
In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck’s daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which ended in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which, before her marriage, formed a substantial part of her father’s fortune.
Although Schumann was no child prodigy, he went on to become one of the most important composers of the 19th century and is recognized as such 200 years after his birth.