Joseph (1830–1907) and Amalie (1836–1899) Joachim, née Schneeweiß

Joseph Joachim in späteren Jahren
Joseph Joachim Etching by Heinrich Reifferscheid, around 1898 (StadtMuseum Bonn)

Joseph Joachim was born in 1831 Kittsee in Burgenland, Austria. He first became famous as fiddling child genius and then owed important impulses to Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The twelve-year-old made ​​his debut in a concert of Pauline Viardot-Garcia with Clara Schumann in Leipzig in 1843 and earned great success in London in 1844 with the performance of the as almost unplayable considered Violin Concerto of Beethoven.

In 1850 he followed Franz Liszt and moved to Weimar as head violinist and was appointed at the royal court in Hanover in 1853. There he remained until 1868, still concerted regularly in England, Holland and Belgium and composed many of his works at this time.

In 1868 he moved to Berlin where he established the Royal Academy of Music which he was in charge of until his death in 1907. The by himself founded  Joachim Quartet, with which he had regular chamber music evenings at home and abroad, was legendary.

The encounter with Joachim in May 1853 was of great importance for Clara and Robert Schumann, since it was him who introduced Brahms to them. Robert Schumann was so impressed by his playing that he recommended him his Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra op. 131, which Joachim performed for the first time, and also defined his Violin Concerto for him.

Clara Schumann presumably performed only with very few artists as often as she did with Joseph Joachim. More than 200 concert papers are collected in her list of programs and give evidence on joint performances. Their showpiece was undoubtedly Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and especially their common Beethoven interpretations were praised again and again. Besides Beethoven, they also played violin sonatas by Schumann, Mozart and other composers.

Clara Schumann appreciated Joseph Joachim not only as musicians but also as a friend. The violinist was also pleased to perform together with Clara Schumann, since both of them were well attuned to each other.

During the hard times of Schumann's disease, Joachim supported Clara Schumann and visited him together with Brahms at the asylum, which for sure deepened the friendship. Apart from Brahms, Joachim was also an advisor for Clara concerning the complete edition of Schumann’s works.

Amalie Joachim
Amalie Joachim, reproduction of a photography (Archiv der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien)


In 1863 Joseph Joachim married the singer Amalie Schneeweiss, who called herself “Weiss” on stage. The outstanding contralto was born in Styria, Austria, and was first engaged at Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, where she was appointed for only small roles.

In April 1862 she was offered an engagement at the Royal Court Opera in Hannover, where she draw attention as Orpheus and Leonore. Soon she met Joseph Joachim and married him. Later she performed at the request of her husband only as a concert singer and achieved good reputation as singer of songs and oratorios. Especially the song repertoire of Schumann, Schubert and Brahms was her specialty. It was her who gave a pure Schumann night for the first time, so for example on 11th of January 1888 in Berlin.

Amalie and Joseph Joachim had six children, but divorced in 1884. The close friendship between Brahms and Joachim suffered a major break when Brahms took sides with Amalie.

Joachim tried to take the children from her and shifted the blame on her because of his abnormal jealousy.

Clara Schumann tried to stay friends with both partners equally. She went on several concert tours until 1878 together with Amalie Joachim and interpreted, for example, Schumann's “Frauenliebe und Leben” op. 42, the cycle the most frequently sung by Amalie Joachim.

Clara Schumann acknowledged Amalie as equal concert partner and colleague, which is also reflected in the fact that she always transfered half of the fee, even if she had to play more.

But also the three of them, Clara Schumann, Joseph  and Amalie Joachim, often performed together, for instance in London or Berlin and Braunschweig.

(Julia M. Nauhaus, translated by Katharina Ma)

Cp. also [ Joseph Joachim ]

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