It begins even just with her name! Clara Wieck? Clara Schumann? Or perhaps a double surname? All artists, female and male alike, will be familiar with this problem: once a name is established, it’s not a good career move to change it—unless someone makes the fact that they’ve done so into their trademark, as did TAFKAP (The Artist Formerly Known as Prince). But the well-known pianist Clara Wieck dared to take this step when, in 1840, she married and assumed her husband’s name. From then on, she continued her career as Clara Schumann. And today? What should we call her now?

Discussions like this stood at the outset of a project that has since dug into the matter of just what considerations would have been behind the ideal career strategy for a young woman pianist like her, covering questions such as: What repertoire should she work on? What image matches the individual and what she seeks to express with her music? And above all: What skills are necessary for a (long-lasting) career? In the case of Clara Wieck, born in 1819, one can take for granted the three basic pillars necessary for a career as a pianist: virtuosic playing, improvisation, and composition. She devoted herself to all three with great intensity and to great success. Later on, as Clara Schumann, she scaled back her composing in order to place her husband’s compositions more strongly in focus. It was thus that Clara Schumann’s repertoire differed from that of Clara Wieck—a conspicuous image change partway through a long composing career.

But how should one, then, approach the various questions surrounding the piano career strategies of an exceptional woman artist during the 19th century? And what questions do they raise that could also apply to present-day pianistic careers? To celebrate the 200th birthday of Clara Wieck_Clara Schumann, a team that includes pianists, improvisors, a composer, and a researcher has formed in order to explore the abovementioned three pillars in various artistic and scholarly constellations. The two-day celebration that they’ve planned will begin with a concert-lecture moderated by the renowned Clara Schumann researcher Beatrix Borchard (Hamburg) in which mdw students will bring the biography and sounds of Clara Wieck_Clara Schumann to life. The following day will see three research-based lectures shed light on questions pertaining to her existence as a woman pianist: What do we know about her performances (Janina Klassen)? What did she pass on to her students (Annkatrin Babbe)? And how did the pianist Marie Wieck coexist with her more famous half-sister from a career strategy standpoint (Stephanie Hodde-Fröhlich)? In the afternoon, the programme will continue with presentations of artistic research projects by ­Michael Hudecek and Christina Zurbrügg, Barbara Lüneburg, and others. The overall event will culminate in a concert that includes contemporary compositions inspired by the theme of “Clara Wieck_Clara Schumann” by Hannah Eisendle, Katharina ­Klement, and Manon-Liu Winter as well as improvisational performances by mdw students.

A Celebration for Clara Wieck_Clara Schumann (1819–1896)1
12 & 13 November 2019
Clara Schumann-Saal
Anton-von-Webern-Platz 1
1030 Vienna

  1. Idea, concept, and coordination: Administrative Department for Equality, Gender Studies, & Diversity (Andrea Ellmeier and Birgit Huebener) in collaboration with Sybilla Joedicke, Johannes Marian, and Manon-Liu Winter (Ludwig van Beethoven Department of Piano and Harpsichord in Music Education), Annegret Huber (Department of Composition, Electroa-coustics, and Tonmeister Education), and Melanie Unseld (Department of Musicology and Performance Studies)
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