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Classical music has a history of Composing… Women! So this Women’s History Month Tri States Public Radio and the WIU School of Music shines the spotlight… one every weekday… on over twenty great female composers. From baroque to romantic… to impressionist… to post-serialist. From the mystic Abbess who advised the Pope… to the Chicagoan whose works were rediscovered in an abandoned house. Listen in for Composing Women… Every weekday during March at 7:19 during Morning Edition, or at 5:48 during All Things Considered, as TSPR Music Director Ken Zahnle introduces you to our composer of the day… and at 11:00 a.m. during Ovation for a featured work by our featured classical master.

Clara Wieck Schumann

Augusta Mary Anne Holmes

Clara Wieck seemed destined to be a musician. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, one of the most respected piano teachers in Germany, taught her both piano and the business of being a practicing musician. To capitalize on the early 19th century fascination with child prodigies he arranged for her first solo concert in Leipzig’s Gewandhaus when she was just nine.

In 1830, Friedrich’s student Robert Schumann moved into the Wieck household to continue his studies. He and Clara quickly developed a musical friendship, which deepened over a decade into a romantic relationship. The two married in 1840, over the aggressive opposition of Clara’s father, including a long series of lawsuits and Friedrich’s promoting a rival female pianist.

Clara already had an active concert career, including composing and publication of her own virtuosic works. After marriage that continued, although she began fitting those activities around Robert’s composing and writing career, and around growing family obligations … first, with their eight children… and then, with Robert’s deteriorating health. Clara still crafted some substantial works, though, including a Piano Sonata and a Piano Trio.

In 1854 Robert’s mental health declined so severely he was hospitalized, dying two years later. At that point Clara stopped composing… instead focusing the rest of her long life on promoting and editing her husband’s legacy, and extensively performing throughout Europe, setting a standard for modern piano recitals which shaped a generation of pianists.

Wrote Clara of composing, “There is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound.”

Clara Wieck Schumann… a Composing Woman.


  • September 13, 1819 - Born in Leipzig
  • October 28th 1828 - performed at Leipzig Gewandhaus
  • 1828 - Clara met Robert Schumann
  • November 8, 1830 - First solo concert in Gewandhaus
  • 1831 - Performed Robert Schumann’s Papillons
  • February 15, 1832 - First tour in Paris
  • May 1st, 1832 - Returned back home 
  • 1832 - Der Traum is her earliest documented composition
  • August 9–10th 1832 - Romance variée op.3 is dedicated to Robert Schumann
  • 1834 - Walzer was composed
  • 1835 - The Quatrepièces caracteristiques op.5 was composed
  • 1836 - Variations de concert sur la cavatina du Pirate de Bellini op.8 and the Soirées musicales op. 6 were composed


Piano Trio, op. 17
Piano Sonata in g minor
Piano Concerto in a minor, op. 7
Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann, op. 20
Drei gemischte Chöre (3 mixed choruses, incl. Vorwärts!)
Drei Romanzen, op. 21, piano solo

Supporting Materials

Lithograph of Clara Schumann,

Ken oversees all music programming for Tri States Public Radio, hosting the morning classical music program Ovation, the Saturday nigh jazz survey After Hours, and engineering recorded performances for TSPR. Ken is a native of Highland Park, IL, with degrees in music and broadcasting from Western Illinois University. Teenage years listening to Chicago's old-school fine arts and classical radio stations, coupled with a few months spinning discs on a college residence hall radio station, led him onto the primrose career path of radio. Ken has deep roots at TSPR, starting as a student staff announcer and host, before becoming news director for a group of local radio stations, then Program Director for Tri States Audio Information Services. When he's not deep within our studios and music library, he continues his over quarter-century of assisting Macomb High School's Marching Band.