Siblings and half-siblings of Clara Schumann
From the marriage of Clara Schumann’s parents, divorced in 1825:
Wieck, Adelheid (1817–18), sister
Wieck, Friedrich Alwin Feodor (1821–1885), brother
Since Clara took centre stage at home, her brothers Alwin and Gustav were not promoted to the same extent but were sent out of the house as soon as possible, to stand on their own feet. Clara taught Alwin the piano when she was twelve years old. He became a violinist, studying with Ferdinand David in Leipzig, and then moved to Reval [now Tallinn] in 1843. Between 1849 and 1859, he was a member of the Italian Opera Orchestra in St Petersburg and then lived in Dresden, working as a music teacher. He tried to disseminate the methods of his father but this later led to a break with his half-sister Marie who held that she was the only one to be able to pass on the teaching methods of Friedrich Wieck authentically. Both of them wrote piano manuals according to Wieck’s method. Still, the two siblings reconciled shortly before Alwin’s death, to Clara’s great relief.
Clara herself promoted Alwin, inter alia, at the piano manufacturing company Grotrian-Steinweg in Braunschweig so that he would receive a price reduction when he bought a new grand piano; she sometimes also spent the summer holidays with him, including the last summer before his death. Concerning Alwin’s death, Clara Schumann wrote to her friend Rosalie Leser: “[If I had only seen him one more time! He was so pleased with the last letter I wrote to him. Even though we rarely saw each other, he was always very attached to me. [...] What saddens me deeply is the fact that Alwin had grieved so terribly in the last months, because he was not mentioned even with a single word in the newspapers on the occasion of my father’s 100th birthday, after he had been so committed to disseminating the method of our father with tireless diligence and had achieved the best results with it.]”
Wieck, Gustav Robert Anton (1823–1884), brother
Friedrich Wieck also cared relatively little about Gustav, since his primary focus was on training his daughter Clara so that she would become a virtuoso. Gustav became an instrument maker and went to Vienna in 1838, where Schumann frequently spent time with him during his prolonged stay.
In 1845, Gustav was staying in Weimar, but later lived again in Vienna permanently, where he also died.
Wieck, Victor (1824/1827), brother
From the marriage of Friedrich Wieck and Clementine Fechner, Clara Schumann’s stepmother:
Wieck, Clemens (1829–1833), half-brother
Wieck, Marie (1832–1916), half-sister
Like her older sister, Marie Wieck was trained by her father, Friedrich Wieck, to become a pianist. From the age of five, she was taught the piano by Louis Anger, then by her father, who kept a diary for Marie, as previously for Clara. There, he noted that Marie was “silly, stupid and lazy [...], like Clara]”. But also that she had as much talent as Clara and a feel for music and rhythm and a musical ear. However, Marie was not as talented as Clara at all. At the age of nine, she still had difficulties in reading music and reaching octaves. At the same age, Clara had already given her debut at the Leipzig Gewandhaus concert hall. Like Clara, Marie also did not attend state school but was taught by private tutors, with a focus on foreign languages. On 20th November 1843, Marie performed for the first time in public, in a concert of her half-sister Clara, with whom she played two movements of a Sonata by Ignaz Moscheles four hands. The critics acknowledged a convincing artistic achievement of the eleven-year-old. Subsequently, Friedrich Wieck took her on shorter concert tours to Thuringia (Eisenach, Weimar) and Hesse (Kassel). In Leipzig, she performed several times at the Gewandhaus concert hall and celebrated great success. She continued her training with her father but also began to teach herself, first her younger sister Cäcilie, and at the beginning of 1847 also her niece Marie Schumann. In addition, Friedrich Wieck gave her singing lessons and in the 1860s, Marie performed as a solo singer. Later on, she became a successful singing and also piano teacher. Her career as a pianist took her to many European countries, such as to Switzerland in 1851, to Vienna and Italy in 1855, to Britain in 1864/65, to Russia in 1870, and to Scandinavia in 1879. She thrilled the audience with her piano playing and also performed several times together with her half-sister Clara Schumann and with Joseph Joachim. In 1857, she was appointed chamber virtuoso to the Court of Hohenzollern. She gave her last concerts in Dresden at the age of 84 in December 1914 and January 1915. Marie Wieck, like Alwin Wieck, promoted the dissemination of her father’s teaching methods and published several works on the teaching practice of Friedrich Wieck. A serious eye disease sharply curtailed her tireless work in her last years and led to blindness shortly before her death. Marie Wieck died in Dresden on 22nd November 1916. Despite the recognition of her artistic achievements, she was in the shadow of her older and more famous half-sister all her life. That she was probably a little jealous of Clara can be gleaned from her memoirs Aus dem Kreise Wieck-Schumann [From the Circle of the Wiecks and the Schumanns].
Wieck, Cäcilie (1834–1893), half-sister
Clara’s second half-sister from the marriage of Friedrich Wieck and Clementine Fechner was mentally ill from the age of 16.
From the marriage of Clara Schumann’s mother Mariane and Adolph Bargiel:
Bargiel, Woldemar (1828–1897), half-brother
Woldemar Bargiel was the first son from Mariane’s marriage to the piano and singing teacher Adolph Bargiel and was born in Berlin. He received music lessons from an early age and then became a pupil of Siegfried Wilhelm Dehn in Berlin. On the suggestion of Robert Schumann and with the support of Felix Mendelssohn, he enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatoire in 1846 where he pursued his training with Moritz Hauptmann, Ignaz Moscheles, Julius Rietz, and Niels Wilhelm Gade until 1850. After that, he worked as a music teacher in Berlin and, thanks to the influence of his famous half-sister and his brother-in-law, was able to publish several compositions. In 1859, Ferdinand Hiller appointed him teacher of piano and music theory at the Cologne Conservatoire. In 1865, he became Conductor and Director of the Conservatoire in Rotterdam, where he met his wife Hermine Tours and worked until 1874. After that, Joseph Joachim appointed Bargiel professor at the Berlin Conservatoire, where he taught with success until his death on 23rd February 1897. He was also friends with Johannes Brahms, with whom he worked on the Chopin and Schumann complete editions. Schumann himself had appreciated Bargiel and commissioned him several times to produce piano scores of his works. Bargiel admired his brother-in-law and his sister very much and dedicated two compositions to them. His oeuvre is slim; he wrote orchestral works, chamber music, including three piano trios, string quartets and a string octet, and numerous works for piano two and four hands. Woldemar Bargiel was very introverted and forgotten as a composer still during his lifetime. He has been rediscovered only recently. His niece Eugenie Schumann described him as “[the most sensitive amongst musicians, and highly educated]”.
Bargiel, Ernst Amadeus Theodor Eugen (1830 Berlin – 1907 Bucharest), half-brother
Clara described Eugen Bargiel in July 1842, when he and Woldemar spent the holidays with the Schumanns, as sincere and good-natured; he was a merchant who then emigrated to Romania. Eugen Bargiel was often criticised by his family because of a certain insouciance, but he was an amiable person and his brother Woldemar was very attached to him in memory of the youth they spent together.
Bargiel, Clementine (1835 Berlin – 1869 Johannisbad [now Janské Lázně] / Bohemia), half-sister
Clementine Bargiel was also very musical and was taught the piano by her mother and her brother Woldemar. On the recommendation of Clara Schumann, she lived at the Jagetzow manor near Jarmen as a companion to Mrs Rodbertus and piano teacher of her daughter Anna between the autumn of 1853 and the summer of 1858. In July 1859, she went to London where she taught at the Metcalfe Institute of Music in Hendon (now incorporated into London) until the beginning of 1868. After that, she became independent and lived together with her friend Agnes von Bohlen. Clara Schumann gladly gave her lessons when she was staying in London or Clementine was on holiday in Baden-Baden. She died quickly and unexpectedly whilst on holiday, in the presence of her mother and all siblings, at the age of only 33. The family, including Clara Schumann, was profoundly shocked by her death.
Bargiel, Cäcilie (1831 Berlin – 1910 Waldsieversdorf/Brandenburg), half-sister
Cäcilie lived together with her mother Mariane until the latter’s death in 1872, taking care of the household. She also gave piano lessons and sang in the Singakademie music society. She had a special gift for fine handcrafts which her mother, for instance, gave to Clara Schumann on her birthdays. Cäcilie was sickly, and in the spring of 1886, she went to Italy with her friend Laura Peters with the hope to improve her suffering, staying in Cadenabbia, Rome, Capri, and other places until October 1890.
Clara’s relationship with her half-sister was close enough so that she would spend a few summer holidays together with her. Mariana also visited Clara with her daughters Clementine and Cäcilie in Baden-Baden in the 1860s.
On 15th August 1895, Clara wrote in her diary: “[Departure of Cäcilie and Laura [Peters] ... we will miss them a lot. Cäcilie was always so nice to me, so attentive, although she is already so old and actually in need of care. When we said goodbye, my thoughts were whether we would ever see each other again. and I felt very melancholy ...]”.
Cäcilie Bargiel had to spend the last years of her life in a nursing home in Waldsieversdorf near Lake Scharmützel, where she died in 1910.
(Julia M. Nauhaus, translated by Thomas Henninger)
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