Schumann rooms at the Schumann House
The small memorial in the Music Library comprises the two former patient rooms of Schumann on the first floor of the former mental asylum of Dr Richarz, where Robert Schumann was admitted in 1854. The building, named Schumann House only since 1963 after the two memorial rooms were furnished, was originally a small summer residence of the Kaufmanns, a Bonn family of dignitaries, built towards the end of the 18th century outside Bonn, and is now owned by the town of Bonn and is the location of the Music Library of Bonn Town Library. The Schumann rooms where Schumann deceased on 29th July 1856 and where, of course, no authentic furnishings are left from Schumann’s time, since after Schumann’s death they had been used as patients’ rooms and later on old people’s rooms for decades, today present a small overview of Schumann’s life and also remind of Clara Schumann and of his young friends, Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim, who over whole decades following Schumann’s death repeatedly came to Bonn to attend the Schumann commemorations or concerts, or on a visit. The exhibits partly originate from the family estate of Robert and Clara Schumann’s descendants and are mostly owned by the town of Bonn. They are presented at the Schumann House as loans from Bonn Municipal Archives and Bonn Municipal Museum. Individual objects are loans or donations from private collections.
Robert Schumann’s actual sickroom, one of the largest and nicest patients’ rooms with morning sun, is reached via an anteroom where the nurse was probably accommodated. From there, Schumann could look both at Bonn in the East and the nearby Kreuzberg elevation in the South, something which today is no longer possible due to building developments.
The vertiko cabinet, the chest of drawers and also the sewing box are all pieces of furniture from the last third of the 19th century and originate from the estate of Ferdinand Schumann, the second eldest son of the spouses and the only son to have married and to have children.
Square piano with lid
The (unfortunately unplayable) square piano by Richard Lipp was built in 1860 and has been standing at the Schumann House for approx. 20 years as a permanent loan from Piano Hartmann. The lid on the piano was manufactured for the violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim, a close friend of the Schumanns and of Brahms, whose initials “JJ” are embroidered on it.
The original marble relief with the portrait of Robert Schumann made by Adolf Donndorf originates from the funerary monument of the Schumanns in the Old Cemetery and is kept at the Schumann House for conservation reasons (permanent loan from Bonn Municipal Museum).
Other portraits – the oil paintings are all loans from the holdings of Bonn Municipal Museum, the drawings are mostly reproductions after originals from Bonn Municipal Archives – show, inter alia, Robert and Clara Schumann, Clementine Wieck, the second wife of Friedrich Wieck and Clara’s stepmother, Dr Franz Richarz, the Director and physician in charge of the mental asylum, his second wife Catharina Richarz, née Lücker, Johannes Brahms, and Joseph Joachim. An oil painting from 1839 by a certain F. Klima, otherwise not mentioned anywhere else, with the portrait of a young man with an earring is supposed to show the young Robert Schumann, but this is exclusively based on oral transmission by the nowadays unknown donors of the painting and there is no evidence available whatsoever.
View of the mental asylum around 1850 with a large garden. (Copy after a lost drawing) View of Endenich Castle.
Letters and documents
The showcases display (copies of) letters and documents from various stations in the lives of Robert and Clara Schumann, including, inter alia, letters from Robert Schumann to his brother Carl, the publisher Friedrich Kistner, the music commentator August Ambros, and letters from Clara Schumann to Dr Eberhard Peters, medical assistant at Endenich.
On display are also musical sketches by Schumann, mementos, such as a prestigious baton made of ebony and ivory, a book from the publishing house of his parents in Zwickau, and visiting cards, photographs and letters of the Schumann children and of Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim, who all frequently visited Schumann at the mental asylum. Similarly, an embroidered cushion cover and cotton stockings of Clara Schumann, a gift from Brigitte Berenbruch who, in turn, had received these items from Eugenie Schumann’s Swiss housekeeper.
Schumann and the town of Bonn
The memorial rooms also document the Schumann tradition of the town of Bonn by means of concert programmes and photographs, e.g., the Schumann Festival on the 50th anniversary of the composer’s death in 1906, or various stages of the reconstruction of the Schumann House.
Michael Sharpe collection
Michael Sharpe, Patron of the Arts († 2014), had donated to the Schumann House numerous documents from the Schumann circle over many years, particularly portraits, letters, books, and other mementos, mainly from Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim.
Brigitte Berenbruch, Helmut Hellberg: Robert Schumann und Bonn, Bonn 1993;
Thomas Synofzik: Briefe und Dokumente im Schumannhaus Bonn-Endenich, Bonn: Verein Schumannhaus e.V., 1993;
Töne sind höhere Worte. 50 Jahre Schumannhaus und Musikbibliothek Bonn. Documentation, brochure, edited by Verein Schumannhaus Bonn e.V. With contributions by Ingrid Bodsch, Ulrich Bumann, Katrin Reinhold, and Markus Schuck, Bonn 2013
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