The New York Times: Clara Schumann, Music’s Unsung Renaissance Woman

The New York Times
Thomas May

September brings the 200th birthday of a composer whose name is familiar, but whose creative legacy deserves far greater recognition.

“When I was growing up, I first learned about Clara from reading about Robert Schumann,” the pianist Lara Downes said in an interview. The experience immediately resonated, she added, because she had found a classical music figure who looked like her, and could be a role model. As a teenage virtuoso, Ms. Downes determined to track down Clara’s music and played her Piano Concerto in A minor with a small regional orchestra in Alabama.

That was considered unusual at the time, in the mid-1990s. “I was fortunate to have teachers when I was really young who let me explore repertoire off the beaten path,” said Ms. Downes. On her new album, “For Love of You,” which intertwines music by Clara and Robert Schumann, she again explores her early fascination. She’s one of a growing number of performers who are finding inspiration in Clara Schumann’s legacy — and bringing it before a wider audience.

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