As composer, pianist and teacher Clara Schumann was one of 19th-century Germany's most influential musicians. She was born Clara Wieck in Leipzig, and her father trained her as a virtuoso pianist from an early age, she made her concert debut at Leipzig's Gewandhaus at the age of nine. Tours in Germany, Austria and France established her as one of Europe's pre-eminent pianists while still in her teens. She attracted the attention of the composer and critic Robert Schumann, nine years her senior, and the two became engaged in 1837. They married – despite furious resistance from her father – in 1840. By this time she had already completed her Piano Concerto (1835) as well as lieder and several sets of piano miniatures, and after her marriage she completed a Piano Sonata (1842) and Piano Trio (1846) as well as further piano works and songs, all while grappling with the demands of motherhood and Robert's deepening mental illness.
By the time of Robert's death in 1856 she was already a mentor and confidante to the young Johannes Brahms: a relationship that endured until her own death at the age of 76. Although she resumed her concert career, and became an internationally famous piano teacher, she completed few original compositions after 1848. The ardent, strikingly romantic works that she did complete, though, have found renewed appreciation in the 21st century.