Wilhelmine Clauß-Szárvády (1834–1907)

Born in Prague, Wilhelmine Clauß studied under the supervision of the renowned piano pedagogue Josef Proksch and was supported by Karoline Unger-Sabatier. Clara and Robert Schumann met her in August 1847 in Dresden, and Schumann took down following note, "The little Clauß from Prague at Clara’s - very talented." On 7th of February 1850 Clara enabled a “good debut” at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, by resigning from her own performance in favor of Clauß. In a soirée on 22nd of February 1850 she played together with Wilhelmina Schumann's Andante and Variations op. 46.

In January 1854 the Schumanns met again with Wilhelmine Clauß, who lived in Paris since 1852, in Hanover. At this time she was once called a "troublemaker", Clara seemed to be displeased. Nevertheless, she performed with her and Joseph Joachim. Schumann noticed that her presentations of compositions by Stephen Heller and a Beethoven Sonata have been excellent and that this young artist is a "little charming devil". Clara's resentment may well be interpreted as jealousy, because she noted in her diary on the 9th of April 1853 that Wilhelmine Clauss celebrated triumphs with Schumann's Piano Quintet in Paris, and continues: "... I feel sorry that it has to be her who presented Robert’s new works in Paris and London, while it should certainly be me! "

In fact, it is the merit of Wilhelmine Clauß, to have introduced the first compositions of Schumann in the West. Despite this jealousy, further concerts of Clara Schumann with Wilhelmine Clauß took place. In 1855 Clauß married the Hungarian writer Szarvady Frédéric (1822-1882).

On Clara's third tour to Paris, the both of them were giving concerts together. At one of Clara’s soirées they were performing Mozart's Sonata in D major for two pianos, and on 16th of March 1863 in the second Soirée Musicale of Wilhelmine Clauß in the Salon de Pleyel, they played a selection from Schumann's four-hand piano pieces op. 85 and again the Andante and Variations op. 46.

The last joint concert took place on 26th of June 1865 in Bad Kreuzenach, where Schumann’s op. 46 was interpreted by the two pianists. During a concert in Frankfurt in the same year, Clara Schumann was stepping in for Wilhelmine. Both were therefore regarded as quite equal to each other.

The fact that Clara Schumann's resentment concerning her colleague were of a temporary nature only, is proven by the precious gift she made to ​​Wilhelmine Clauß-Szarvady: The autograph of Schumann’s Faschingsschwank from Vienna, op. 26 (first and third set; preserved nowadays in the Robert-Schumann-Haus in Zwickau). Wilhelmine received it with dedication by Clara during her stay in Paris in 1863.

(J.M.N., translated by Katharina Ma)

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