Elisabeth Werner (1823–after 1911)

Elisabeth Werner was a long-time friend of Clara Schumann, who ran the household and looked after and cared for Clara Schumann’s children in their Berlin flat from 1858 – first at Dessauerstraße street 2, then at Schöneberger Ufer street 22 from 1861 – when Clara was on concert tours. At Schöneberger Ufer street 22, Elisabeth Werner and her widowed sister Anna Storch even lived with Clara Schumann on the same floor. An extensive correspondence between Elisabeth Werner and Clara Schumann has been preserved, which spans the period from 1840 to 1895 and provides, inter alia, private insights into everyday life of the Schumann children in Berlin, issues of upbringing, and the Berlin flats. During her numerous concert tours and stays at spa resorts, Clara would enquire about the well-being of her children, ask to arrange for gifts or do daily errands, or send her certain items which she needed on her concert tours but had forgotten to take along, such as warm clothing, sheet music or concert leaflets, always accompanied by detailed and vivid descriptions of where these objects could be found in the flat. At that time, Elisabeth Werner was an important private and professional aid to Clara Schumann by organising her household, looking after the children and maintaining correspondence between Berlin and the many concert places and spa resorts.

Clara Schumann and Elisabeth Werner met when Clara was staying with her mother, Mariane Bargiel, in Berlin between September 1839 and the beginning of June 1840, and Elisabeth’s mother, Amalie Werner, née Lübbert, happened to be a friend of Clara’s mother. In her youth, Elisabeth lived alternately in Berlin, Breslau (now Wrocław) and on the Lower Silesian estate of Altheide (now Polanica-Zdrój), which had been purchased by her brother-in-law, Rudolf Storch. Clara’s half-siblings Woldemar and Clementine Bargiel spent the summer holidays several times in Altheide where, in 1848, Clementine received piano lessons from Elisabeth, and in 1849, in turn, Elisabeth was the pupil of Woldemar. In the 1850s, Elisabeth lived several years in Dresden where she ran their household until her mother’s passing in February 1858. From the middle of the 1860s, Elisabeth lived again in Breslau with her sister, where she also put up Clara Schumann during her Breslau concerts in 1868, 1875, 1876 and 1879.

Cf. Schumann-Briefedition, Series II, Vol. 18: Briefwechsel mit Freunden und Künstlerkollegen (Briefwechsel Clara Schumanns mit Korrespondenten in Berlin 1856 bis 1896), edited by Klaus Martin Kopitz, Eva Katharina Klein and Thomas Synofzik, Cologne, 2015, pp. 603–769, here pp. 605–608. 

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Thomas Henninger, 2020)

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