Rosalie Leser (1812 or 1815 – 1896)

Rosalie Leser, portrait Reproduction of a photography from the Robert-Schumann-Haus, Zwickau
Rosalie Leser, portrait Reproduction of a photography from the Robert-Schumann-Haus, Zwickau

Rosalie Leser, the daughter of a Düsseldorf entrepreneur and an art lover, who had become blind as early as the age of nine, was a family friend of the Schumanns from 1850. Robert Schumann dedicated his Seven Piano Pieces in Fughetta Form, Op. 126, to her and she was also the godmother of the youngest Schumann daughter, Eugenie.

After Robert’s admission to the mental hospital in Bonn-Endenich, the pregnant Clara was taken to stay with Rosalie Leser who lived with her friend Elise Jungé until the latter’s death in 1875. Rosalie became Clara’s close confidante and a great support in the difficult time of Robert’s illness and death. Their close and friendly contact continued even after Clara’s departure from Düsseldorf.

When Clara had bought a small house in Lichtenthal near Baden-Baden, Rosalie Leser also spent the summers near her friend. Clara Schumann went to see her regularly, usually twice a year, and would also spend, for instance, Christmas with her. Clara played to her and took her for walks. Clara regularly wrote to her to tell her about her life. As early as the end of January 1854, Clara had noted in her diary: “[She is almost my only regular contact and I do not need any other company; she understands me completely and looks up to Robert with the utmost admiration. This is something which creates an even closer bond between us. She also knows how to make sacrifices for the sake of friendship, or she is rather so loyal towards us that, for instance, she is ready to give up any music despite her great love of it, if we do not take part in it ...]”. Her godchild Eugenie wrote about Rosalie Leser that she had had a clear mind, a warm heart and that she had been perfectly tactful and, moreover, very discreet.

The last letter from Clara to her friend is dated 16th March 1896. Rosalie Leser died three days before Clara Schumann.

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

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