Robert Schumann, a German composer, born in Zwickau in 1810, died at Endenich, near Bonn, July 29, 1856. His father was a bookseller and publisher. At the age of eleven he wrote little choral and orchestral works. His musical education was to a great extent self-directed, and it was not until he went to the university of Leipsic in 1828 that he received intelligent instruction in music from Friedrich Wieck. In 1829 he attended lectures at Heidelberg, returning to Leipsic in 1830 to receive instruction in counterpoint and composition from Heinrich Dorn. Here he acquired that systematic knowledge of thorough bass which he had thought unnecessary in his early years, and for want of which his earlier compositions lack grace of form and freedom of expression. With a view to obtaining flexibility of the muscles of his hand, and to shortening the months of practice necessary to acquire technical facility, he experimented upon his fingers with a machine of his own invention, which finally deprived the sinews of the third finger of his right hand of their natural elasticity, and made it impossible that he should ever become a pianist. In April, 1834, in connection with several friends, he founded the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, which he long conducted in a broad, generous, and noble spirit.
The years from 1837 to 1840 were rendered unhappy by the resistance of Friedrich Wieck to the marriage of Schumann with his daughter Clara, an eminent pianist. Schumann finally appealed to the law to compel the father's consent, and obtained a favorable decision from the royal court of appeals; and the marriage took place in September, 1840. Up to this period nearly all his compositions had been for the piano. During this year he devoted himself to compositions for the voice, producing 138 songs, some for one and some for more voices; very many of these have become classic. In this year also he was made doctor of philosophy by the university of Jena. Between 1840 and 1854 he produced those great works upon which his fame chiefly rests: his symphonies, his quintet opus 44 and quartet opus 47, "Paradise and the Peri," "The Pilgrimage of the Rose," and many other works of large scope. In 1850 he succeeded Ferdinand Hiller as director of music at Düs-seldorf; but he lacked many of the essential qualities of a good conductor, and in 1853 his engagement terminated. Even before this time the mental malady that darkened his closing years had begun to develop itself.
In February, 1854, he threw himself into the Rhine. He was rescued and removed to a private asylum at Endenich, but never recovered his reason. His works embrace almost every variety of composition for voice and instruments. A second edition of his Gesammelte Schriften über Musik und Musiker appeared in Leipsic in 1875 (2 vols.).