Brahms and the Schumanns

Ref: C3744579

The friendship between Brahms and the Schumanns has long been a subject of lively speculation and gossip, especially the forty-year 'passionate' relationship that existed between Clara and Johannes after Robert's death. This course will examine the interconnected life of these three influential musicians through their music and correspondence. Robert Schumann was a cultured man of letters, as well as a major composer of the Romantic age, whose new musical aesthetics and assault on artistic philistinism were highly influential in placing music at the centre of Germany's cultural life. Clara Schumann was one of the most remarkable women of the nineteenth century. Her contemporaries described her in saintly terms as a dedicated wife and mother, yet she was also one of the finest concert pianists and a composer of considerable eminence. Robert predicted a great future for Brahms, but it was through Clara's encouragement and critical observations that Brahms achieved his musical success.

Course aim

To discover how one of history's most emotionally intense artistic relationships - between Robert Schumann, his wife Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, resulted in the creation of such a broad range of profound and appealing musical masterpieces.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • describe the significant contributions that Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms made to the development of European music in the nineteenth century;
  • explain why Robert Schumann set about engineering so many different incarnations of himself - writer, composer, critic and fierce opponent of philistinism in the arts;
  • discuss the remarkable contribution that Clara Schumann made to nineteenth-century artistic life;
  • re-evaluate the perception that Brahms was musically conservative, and link him to the ground-breaking developments of the early twentieth century.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • At the end of each session, the tutor will make suggestions for further listening.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • Subject to your agreement, the tutor will email notes that cover the main topics covered in each session.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • You may find it useful to have access to some of the correspondence between the Schumanns and Brahms. Any edition will suffice, and many of their letters can also be found online.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Brahms and the Schumanns

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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