Emilie Steffens, married Heydenreich (1830-1910)

Emilie Steffens moved from Detmold to Dresden in 1848 to take piano lessons with Clara Schumann. She is first mentioned in Robert Schumann’s Housekeeping Book on 27th February 1848. The Schumanns took the eighteen-year-old under their wing, and Emilie was often allowed to spend the afternoons and evenings with them and also to participate in their private music events.

Especially in 1849, the Schumanns took Emilie on joint outings and they also spent holidays together; in 1848 and 1849, Emilie celebrated her birthdays with the Schumanns. She performed for the first time in public in Dresden on 25th February 1849, together with Clara Schumann and Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient. On 24th October of the same year, she gave her own concert in her home town, and on 6th November 1849, she appeared in Bremen together with Joseph Joachim. She already gave piano lessons at that time. On 11th June 1851, she married the preacher Julius Carl Heinrich Heydenreich in Dresden, with whom she had two sons and a daughter. After her marriage, it seems Emilie Steffens did no longer appear on stage. At the end of April 1848, she had joined the Choral Singing Society, founded by Schumann, as an alto.

In March 1850, Clara entrusted her children and the household to Emilie, when the housekeeper was seriously ill and she herself was staying in Leipzig and Hamburg at that time. Emilie was also in charge of the Schumann household during Clara’s longer stay in Leipzig for the rehearsals of Genoveva between 18th May and 10th July 1850. Most letters from Clara Schumann to Emilie Steffens, of 1849 and 1850, are preserved (25 letters of Clara Schumann and four letters from Emilie Steffens to Clara and Robert Schumann as well as their recollections were published in 2005 in a special volume: Alltag und Künstlertum. Clara Schumann und ihre Dresdner Freundinnen Marie von Lindeman und Emilie Steffens. Erinnerungen und Briefe nach den Quellen [Everyday Life and Artistry. Clara Schumann and her Dresden Friends Marie von Lindeman and Emilie Steffens. Recollections and Letters according to the Sources], edited by Renate Brunner, Sinzig, 2005, Schumann-Studien Sonderband 4). The correspondence ended in 1853, after Emilie’s marriage to the pastor Carl Heinrich Heydenreich in 1851 had apparently led to her alienation.

Later on, in her letters to Marie von Lindeman, who was friends with Emilie Steffens, Clara Schumann sent her greetings to “Mrs Heydenreich” and no longer used the informal address as at the time of their friendly contact in Dresden. In 1888, when Emilie Heydenreich congratulated Clara Schumann on her 60th anniversary as an artist, she also gave a short overview of her last years, which leads to conclude that there had been no more contact for a long time. Her recollections provide interesting insights into the personalities of Robert and Clara Schumann, the activities of the Choral Singing Society, and the period of intense contact between pupil and teacher in Dresden.

The collections of the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau now hold Emilie’s memories of Clara and a valuable autograph album from the estate of the former pupil.

(J.M.N., translated by Th. H.)

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