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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Against a backcloth of early 19th century Europe in cultural and political turmoil, this vivid account of the love of the composer Robert Schumann for pianist Clara Wieck unfolds. Drawing on his protagonists' letters and journals, JD Landis spins a compelling tale of Robert and Clara's passion, enforced separation, marriage and the eventual love triangle created by the dev ...more
ebook, 509 pages
Published December 19th 2006 by Snowbooks (first published 2000)
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Longing and passion are intertwined in this biographical novel of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck-Schumann. Longing is a recurrent theme, and the word ‘longing’ appears many times. Robert, Clara and their friends passionately compose and perform their music, and passion extends itself to passion of the flesh.

From the moment that eight year old Robert hears Ignaz Moscheles perform Clementi’s Sonata in B-flat he forgets about his fascination with the pianist’s hair, and simply shuts his eyes and
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I've read in years. I finished it, then immediately started again on page one and read it all again. Then I read it a third time not long after that. I passed it on to a handful of friends, most of whom were just as excited about it as I was. Now, I have to confess that we are all amateur pianists who get together and play classical music for each other periodically. That must have something to do with our enthusiasm, because otherwise I can't for the life of me understand ...more
Jo-Ann Murphy
You need a good vocabulary and a good dictionary to read this book. The first part of the story was fairly balanced between Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann and their story. But after he is institutionalized, Clara disappears. The author claims it is because she did not visit him but I just found the story unbalanced from that point and harder to follow. Robert's constant insane ramblings became tedious. It was good to read before bed because it definitely put me to sleep at that point. If the wh ...more
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
A novel based on the lives of Robert & Clara Schumann. It took probably as long as I've spent reading a book this year. The story was interesting enough (though it bogged down a bit at the end when Robert was in the asylum), but the writing was terrible. The sentences were endless with countless clauses that made negotiating many of the sentences like finding your way through a maze. Then he insisted on trying to impress you with his vocabulary and including every bit of knowledge his resear ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating glimpse into the over-heated world of romantic classical music - told through the eyes of Robert Schumann and his love for and pursuit of Clara Schumann. These folks were the celebrity rock stars of their day - Clara as Taylor Swift, young prodigy, paraded through Europe as a celebrated pianist, wowing thousands in an era when the piano and its mastery was just coming into its own. Robert Schumann was older - a bad boy, composing disturbingly modern 'heavy metal' pieces that the au ...more
Mary Hughes
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
An exception work of well researched history of the amazing Clara Wieck Schumann and Robert Schumann with guest appearances by Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. Landis does not work very hard at any sense of time and place, but that was fine with me. The imagined inner workings of both Schumanns' minds was what fascinated, plus the convoluted story of their courtship. Landis leaves the Brahms' relationship somewhat unresolved, and just as well. What is love, after all. Vastly better than a biograph ...more
Harry Tomos
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ended the book feeling bereft, entertained, heavy hearted but in a seemingly good way, the depth of emotion surprised me, I don't know if the intertwining of the music which is part of my soul anyway having done it all my life just somehow gave me a different view, such a pure longing, was lovely to read and a book that engulfed me.
Janet Lynch
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a novelization of the greatest love story in the nineteenth century western European musical world, that of Robert and Clara Schumann. I thought it would be fun to read about Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, and the Schumanns standing around talking together, but it wasn’t, and the fact that they broke into a game of leap frog didn’t help. I don’t doubt this actually happened; Landis’ book is painstakingly researched. I’m wondering if he had to include every single fact he unearthed; the pros ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Actually found this book in one of the many boxes still not had so many corners of pages turned down, I just had to re-read it again. All about the love affair between Robert and Clara Schumann...she was a pianist, too. Fascinating story. They were friends with Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn and...both of them were in love with Brahms.

"These brilliant and complex people enrich this sweeping story of a love that could not be denied but could not end happily. Set amid an appalling and en
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was rather ponderous and boring. I kept reading it because I wanted to learn something about the life of Schumann after I had started. Unfortunately the author has a show-offy writing style and adds as many wee extraneous details as possible. This makes it difficult to wade through. Plus, so much navel gazing - not my thing. I hadn't know that all those composer folks knew each other and hung out together though so that was interesting. I guess I had some weird idea that each famous co ...more
Dec 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot from this book about the romantic era composers and authors. I hadn't realized how much they were all friends with each other, and it was funny to picture pianists as rock stars. Clara and Robert's relationship is interesting to watch unfold, but the last third of the book when Robert is in the insane asylum is not fun to read at all. Reading this book definitely made me want to listen to all the music by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin and others that they discuss, but overall it ...more
Mar 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lesser known than his contemporaries, Robert Schumann was a genius. Even lesser known than Robert, was Clara Schumann, a master at performance, the woman who compensated for her lifelong love's shortfalls. This is a very interesting rendition of their relationships, both with each other, their peers, their superiors and with their music.

Plenty is in here for a true musician, or at least for anyone who understands the basics of music theory. He harps on fugues a little much, but at least Landis
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rich in history, but embellished enough to be a compelling, fascinating journey into the 19th century world of Robert Schumann and his love, Clara Wieck. The focus on Clara is not at all unwelcome, as it seems she was the sane, steady, admirable genius. It's a stark contrast to his creative madness, so clearly unwell. It sang to me and urged me to listen to the music and artists talked about in the book, and play a few new piano pieces.
Nov 21, 2008 rated it liked it
An intimate, yet epic in length, novel about Robert Schumann, his wife Clara, and the singular threesome they created with Brahms - and where friendship and love intertwine in mysterious ways. It's a subject that has fascinated more than one writer, but Landis does a beautiful job. His writing is elegant and skillful. The book may be a bit long, perhaps, and is certainly slow, but the recreation of Romantic Germany and the evocation of the great masters of classical music is quite beguiling.
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a bit slow getting started, probably because I was completely unfamiliar with the historical context surrounding Schumann and Clara Wieck. Once I got into it, it was great - full of famous composers including Brahms, Chopin, and Liszt. It made me really want to visit Germany, although many of the sites were bombed during the Second World War.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it
It took me a little while to get into the pace and style of this book, I found it fascinating and learned a tremendous amount. The story behind genius is always interesting to me and this fictional telling of the story of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck was both brilliant and complex as they themselves were. . .
Shivanee Ramlochan
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
God, I adored this book so deeply when I was a young and feverish teen. I shudder to think what I might make of it now. Perhaps I ought never reread it, and spare myself the calculated agony of falling out of love with my memories of it, in adult life.
Karina Ambartsoumian Clough
Aug 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book at all. I was expecting a beautiful narration of history and love but I derived from it wordiness and disinterest.
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Story of Robert and Clara Schumann and Brahms. Pure pleasure (but maybe that's because I have a sweet spot for the period and the music).
Just starting
Nadia Z.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
L'ho inserito nello scaffale Letteratura Americana perché lo scrittore è americano. Ma la storia è totalmente ambientata in Germania durante l'epoca romantica...
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wonderfully written, beautiful (& heartbreaking) account of the life Robert and Clara Schumann. Contemporaries include Listz, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Brahms.
Oct 31, 2008 added it
One of the best I have read! An author who is able to express in words what music feels like inside...About Robert and Clara Schumann...semi biographic.
David Allsopp
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Touching story of Robert and Clara Schuman
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
The story of Robert and Clara Schumann and all of their classical music friends in the late 1800s. A bit hard but interesting.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Strangely compelling, painful and uncomfortable. I was glad to finish this one!
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-finished
Great book to increase my vocabulary and I really wanted to continue reading as I was enjoying the story but …… would rather read another and lose myself within the story.
Michelle Hart
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Slow but beautiful read, fascinating to learn about the lives of the musicians and artists of the period, love, madness and music.
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Joan Elizabeth
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Was fast-paced but twisted into strange rationale for Schumann's odd personality. Interesting tho.
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