Berthold Litzmann (1857–1926)

Berthold Litzmann, oil painting (StadtMuseum Bonn, SMB 1991/G 35)
Berthold Litzmann, oil painting (StadtMuseum Bonn, SMB 1991/G 35)

Berthold Litzmann, a specialist in German studies, produced a three-volume biography of Clara Schumann between 1901 and 1908, which to this day is an important source of material for the Robert and Clara Schumann research. After Julius Allgeyer had passed away in 1900 during the preliminary work on his Clara Schumann biography, Marie Schumann commissioned Litzmann to write a biography on the basis of letters and diaries of her mother, whilst also using Allgeyer’s manuscript which went up to 1840. Although, in the first two volumes, Litzmann produced more of a double biography, focusing on Clara Schumann as a pianist and less as a composer, he still provided a comprehensive picture of the artist as a married woman, the many concert tours, the correspondence and meetings with various artist friends, Clara’s later teaching activity, and also the publication of Schumann’s youth letters and collected works. According to Eugenie Schumann, Marie Schumann destroyed the later diaries of her mother after completion of the biography. Clara Schumann’s diary entries quoted by Litzmann, even if they are very incomplete and were chosen selectively or censored by Marie or Clara Schumann themselves, thus remain the only source for Clara’s later diaries to this day.

Berthold Litzmann met Clara Schumann as a seven-year-old when she stayed with the Litzmanns for the first time in December 1864 on the occasion of a concert in Kiel. In the 1870s, Clara went to Kiel several times to cure her arm pain, and during these stays she also played on the Litzmanns’ piano.

Cf. Janina Klassen: Clara Schumann. Musik und Öffentlichkeit, Cologne et al., 2009, pp. 480–487.

Berthold Litzmann: Clara Schumann. Ein Künstlerleben. Nach Tagebüchern und Briefen. 3 Vols. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1902–1908.

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Th. Henninger)

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