Clara Schumann’s legacy as a teacher

Loges, N. (2021) Clara Schumann’s legacy as a teacher. In: Clara Schumann Studies. Cambridge Composer Studies . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 271-291. ISBN 9781108489843 (hardback) 9781108779531 (e-book)


Clara Schumann’s pedagogical significance has long been acknowledged. Her influence transcended her pupils, shaping not only piano performance, but concert culture and, indeed, the understanding of music’s aesthetic role, for over a century. From a music-historiographical perspective, scholars have argued for a more nuanced understanding of Schumann’s overlapping identities as pianist, composer, teacher, wife and mother. This arises from the belief that to understand a musician holistically is to understand all their activities, and the relationships these engender with families, colleagues, friends, teachers, students, audiences and critics (what Beatrix Borchard conceives as ‘constellations’ or networks), while acknowledging that no single account can fill all the gaps. Adopting Borchard’s ‘constellation’ approach to history, which reveals much about the structures of power conveyed by the teacher–pupil relationship, this chapter explores the perception of Schumann’s teaching legacy in the British reception of two famous pupils: Fanny Davies and Leonard Borwick. It examines how these pianists’ reputations overlapped with that of Schumann, according to their gender, nationality, repertoire and image. In doing so, it shows how these teacher–pupil relationships were simultaneously compressed (by the forces of critical writing) and stretched (by the individuality of each musician).

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