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15 January 2018

clara-wieck-schumann-4

Visitors to the shop will know that we always have classical music in the background. This is to provide a kind of ‘barrier’ between the office part of the shop and people browsing: if there is no music the visitor is rather conscious of us and vice versa. It used to be Radio 3 (when the music wasn’t too modern) or Classic FM (though we were always turning it off and on because of the ads), but for the last couple of years we have subscribed to Spotify. And this year we are going through Clemency Burton-Hill’s book – a piece of classical music for every day – and playing ‘her’ composer. And this brings us to women composers. There were/are so many of them! However, it’s the same old story: we hear about them less than we hear about the men. Of course there wasn’t a woman Schubert or Beethoven or Brahms. But over the centuries there have been some very fine composers, so many indeed that it proved impossible to choose just five for one week of the Post, so in fact they are going to be spread over a glorious two weeks. First up: Clara Schumann (1819-96). Here are the (rather well written-up) details of her life, which one is tempted to call sad, but she had eight children, composed music when she was young, became a well-known and revered piano teacher, had many close friends including, for example, Brahms, lived until she was 77 and during her lifetime was far more famous than her husband: wonderful as Robert Schumann’s work is, it’s a great pity that now this has reversed. Here is Clara Schumann’s absolutely beautiful Nocturne in F Major (played by someone unknown); there are lots of her other pieces on You Tube, all stunning.

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