1835 Hamburg

Hamburg, 1.Hälfte 19. Jh.
Hamburg, first half of 19th century, steel engraving (StadtMuseum Bonn)

Hamburg is one of the cities, where Clara Wieck-Schumann most frequently stopped by during her decade-long career.

Her first tour through Northern Germany as 15-year-old with her father led her to the city at the Elbe in March 1835. Between 14th of March and 9th of April she all in all performed eight times with great success. Two years later she gave three concerts and among others also played her recently published piano concert op. 7.

In Feburary/March 1840 she went on a journey to Hamburg and Bremen together with her mother Mariane Bargiel and built up friendships with the families Parish, Avé-Lallemant and the music director Otten, which lasted very long. The defamations that her father spread against her as bride of Robert Schumann did not have any impact. The young pianist was invited by senator Jenisch and also the uncle of Heinrich Heine, Salomon Heine. These five concerts were successful by artistic and financial means and Clara Wieck even performed Schumann’s Novelletten in public. In a letter to her fiancé in Leipzig she enthusiastically describes the beauty of the city:

"„Könnt ich Dir doch das ganze Hamburg mit seiner schönen Elbe und Seeschiffen mitschicken! […] Ach Robert, wir müssen einmal zusammen hin! ich sage Dir, am Jungfernstieg zu wohnen und früh bei schönem Sonnenschein die Alster zu sehen mit den vielen Schwänen darauf, das ist ein himmlischer Anblick.“"

Clara’s wish came true: In 1842 (short before her journey to Denmark), and in 1850 both of them spent time in Hamburg. On 16th of March 1850, Robert conducted himself his overture to Genoveva and Clara performed his piano concert. The “Swedish nightingale” Jenny Lind came from Berlin to perform in two concerts of Clara in Altona and Hamburg and delighted the couple with her interpretation of Schumann’s songs.

In November 1854, Clara returned again to Hamburg. This time she traveled alone, because her husband was already taken to the asylum in Bonn-Endenich. Hamburg was the home town of her young friend Johannes Brahms, with whom she and Robert made acquaintance the year before in Düsseldorf and whose parents were now introduced to Clara. After a break of seven years, in 1861, the pianist again came to the city at the Alster and gave concerts with Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim. She played the premiere of the Brahms’ piano quartet Nr. 1 in G minor op. 25 and his variations in Händel op. 24. In the following year Clara performed several times together with baritone Julyus Stockhausen, who lived in Hamburg from 1862 until 1867.

In 1862 they performed Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter journey) and later also Dichterliebe (The poet’s love). From 1871 until 1878 she made music with the singer Amalie Joachim, who also became famous because of her interpretations of Schumann’s works. In the 1860s and 1870s Clara stopped by in Hamburg almost every year during her concert tours to Northern Germany. The 55th and last concert in Hamburg on 4th of November 1881, Clara presented again the piano concert of her husband and a song without words by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

(Julia M. Nauhaus, translated by Katharina Ma)

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