Ernestine von Fricken (1816 – 1844)
Ernestine von Fricken (1816 – 1844) at the age of 19
Miniature, around 1835
Robert Schumann met Ernestine von Fricken in 1834 and fell in love with her. They met at Wieck’s place, where Ernestine lived since April as a piano student and house guest of Wieck. After a secret engagement Baron von Fricken agreed to the marriage and wanted to adopt Ernestine, who probably was the illegitimate child of his sister. The adoption should legitimize her, but did not improve her economic conditions. Whether Schumann was bemused by the obscure relation in Ernestine’s family or deterred by her obvious impecuniosities, or his sudden love for Clara Wieck is not clear. What is certain is that he felt hemmed and asked Ernestine for the dissolution of the engagement, to which she agreed without any desire for revenge, although she was deeply affected. Ernestine, whom Schumann dedicated his Allegro, op. 8 and the Chamisso songs op. 31 and whose place of origin (Asch) is perpetuated in the Carnaval, op. 9, remained well-disposed to Clara and Robert Schumann until her early death. In 1838, she married Count Zedtwitz. Both Ernestine and her adoptive father rejected to support Friedrich Wieck in the process against Robert Schumann with negative statements.
Translation: Katharina Ma