Robert Schumann’s father was an author and book dealer in Zwickau, the German town where Schumann was born. Robert grew up with books all around him, so he fell in love with books and writing. Robert also fell in love with music. As a kid, he took piano, flute and cello lessons, and also started composing.
When he was a teenager, Schumann still wasn’t sure whether he wanted to be a writer or a composer when he grew up. But after heading off to the University of Leipzig to study law, he knew he didn’t want to be a lawyer. In Leipzig, Schumann took piano lessons with a teacher named Friedrich Wieck, whose star pupil was his daughter Clara. In spite of the fact that she was nine years younger than he was, Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck fell in love. Clara’s father absolutely refused to let them get married. It took years — and a court battle with Clara’s father — before Robert and Clara Schumann could finally get married.
The whole year following their wedding, Schumann was so in love that he couldn’t stop composing songs. That became known as Schumann’s Year of Song. Schumann then went off on a couple of other year-long binges. The next year, he worked on three out of his four numbered symphonies, and the following year was Schumann’s year for chamber music — pieces written for small groups of instruments.
Even though a hand injury kept Schumann from becoming a concert pianist, there was still a famous pianist in the house — his wife Clara. She gave the first performance of many of his pieces, including his piano concerto. When the Schumanns’ daughter Marie turned seven, her father gave her a small album of piano pieces that he’d written for her. Later, he added to it, and published it as the Album for the Young — 18 pieces for little kids, and 25 more for older ones.