Emilie List (1818–1902) and Elise Pacher von Theinburg, née List (1822–1893)

Emilie List and her little sister Elise as young children  Lithograph (Robert-Schumann-Haus, Zwickau)
Emilie List and her little sister Elise as young children Lithograph (Robert-Schumann-Haus, Zwickau)

The sisters Emilie and Elise List were daughters of the economist Friedrich List (1789-1846) and came to Leipzig with their family in 1833. They were born in Tübingen and Stuttgart, and spent several years in the USA. Both were among the closest friends of Clara Schumann. The friendship with Emily, called Mila, was probably even more familiar. At first Clara looked up at Emily, who was musically very talented, and later it was the other way around.

Clara met Emily in July 1833 and took English lessons with her. On 12 January 1834 the two friends got confirmed together. Robert Schumann also met and started to appreciate Emilie. In 1836, Emilie was sent to a Parisian boarding school by her parents to improve her French language skills. In fall 1837, Friedrich List moved to Paris as well; first with Elise, and a little later his wife Caroline after the other children followed.

When Clara Wieck came to Paris all by herself in 1839, she was warmly welcomed by the family List, and the friendship with Emilie deepened. Friedrich List introduced Clara to Heinrich Heine and advised her in matters of the trial initiated by Robert Schumann to receive the marriage license.  When the family List returned to Leipzig, Robert and Clara Schumann met them frequently. Emilie worked several years as educator in Bad Kreuznach and Frankfurt and moved to Munich after her father’s death, where she cared for her mother and siblings. She was very energetic and ambitious, interested in economy and politics and fought for the recognition of her father’s achievements. On the other hand, she sacrificed herself for her family, especially for her sister Elise and was known for her fine embroidery. She died in 1902.

At the time in Leipzig when Lists and Schumanns kept company, the focus was mainly put on the singing career of Elise List. Latter was the third child of Lists and early attracted attention with her voice and was educated in Paris. Franz Liszt was one of her admirers, and this is probably not only because of her voice, but also because of her extraordinary beauty. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was consulted and recommended further training of the voice; Schumann was also enthusiastic about Elise's soprano. In fall of 1840 she received an engagement at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, but performed only four times, because the expected success was not big enough. In February 1841 Friedrich List accompanied her to Milan, but her fear and excitement before the concert were so big that she had to give up the dream of a successful concert career. Elise was unable to fight her stage fright. In winter 1842/43 she tried to perform for the very last time in Berlin, but also there the success was just very moderate.

Elise List (1822-1893), Stahlstich mit Schabkunst von A. Schultheiss von ca. 1860
Elise List (1822-1893), steel engraving with mezzotint engraving by A. Schultheiss, ca. 1860 (StadtMuseum Bonn) Based on a painting by Joseph Stieler in1842/43 for the Gallery of Beauties of King Ludwig 1. of Bavaria.

In 1843 she was portraited by Joseph Karl Stieler for the so-called Gallery of Beauties of King Ludwig I. in Schloss Nymphenburg. During this time, Elise made acquaintance with the Austrian manufacturer Gustav Maurice Pacher von Theinburg in Bad Ischl, whom she married in 1845. She took care of his two sons from his first marriage and in spite of her shyness she was welcomed to the Viennese society. Their first daughter died after four days and in 1847 and 1848 the two children Hedwig and Fritz were born; In 1852 Cäcilie Karoline Katharina, called Cilla, was born. Elise's husband died in 1853 of typhus and she moved to Munich with her children. There she established an illustrious circle of friends, also Franz Liszt and Clara Schumann visited her several times. She was also regained access to music, became a member of the recently founded association of oratorios and founded herself a small choir, which was conducted by Joseph Rheinberger.

Elise von Pacher took the 15 year old Julie Schumann for one year in care, who developed an enthusiastic affection for her, what was observed by her mother with very mixed feelings, even if she was of course very grateful for her friend.

Elise suffered a heavy loss when her beloved daughter, Cilla, died of scarlet fever at the age of 9. In the following years she suffered from depressions and in 1865 she was taken to a clinic. In the following years her  sister Emily took her to a lot of recreational and spa stays, but the depression neither could be cured nor improved. In 1879 she fell continuously ill which got better in 1893. But in 1893 Eliza died of pneumonia.

Clara Schumann’s more than 250 letters to the sisters List were published some years ago. She shared all her joys and sorrows. Her letters from the time of Schumann's disease and death are very shattering, but later she gave detail reports on her travels, the educational concerns about her children, but also about her concerts. Schumann's daughter Eugenie tells in her memoires that her mother was livened up and became happy when she visited Emilie List; Clara herself appreciated the familiar relationship to her ​​childhood friend.

(J.M.N., translated by Katharina Ma)

Cp. „Das Band der ewigen Liebe" - Clara Schumann‘s correspondance with Emilie and Elise List, edited by Eugen Wendler, Stuttgart and Weimar 1996

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