When Schumann gave up his journal in 1845 he moved to Dresden, and he began to suffer severely from the dreadful disorder to which he fell a victim twelve years later. This disease—an abnormal formation of bone in the brain—afflicted him with excruciating pains in the head, sleeplessness, fear of death, and strange auricular delusions. A sojourn at Parma, where he had complete repose and a course of sea-bathing, partially restored his health, and he gave himself up to musical composition again. During the next three years, up to 1849, Schumann wrote some of his finest works, among which may be mentioned his opera “Genoviva,” his Second symphony, the cantata “The Rose’s Pilgrimage,” more beautiful songs, much piano-forte and concerted music, and the musical illustrations of Byron’s “Manfred,” which latter is one of his greatest orchestral works.
During the years 1850 to 1854 Schumann composed his “Rhenish Symphony,” the overtures to the “Bride of Messina” and “Hermann and Dorothea,” and many vocal and piano-forte works. He accepted the post of musical director at Dusseldorf in 1850, removed to that city with his wife and children, and, on arriving, the artistic pair were received with a civic banquet. The position was in many respects agreeable, but the responsibilities were too great for Schumann’s declining health, and probably hastened his death. In 1853 Robert and Clara Schumann made a grand artistic tour through Holland, which resembled a triumphal procession, so great was the musical enthusiasm called out. When they returned Schumann’s malady returned with double force, and on February 27, 1854, he attempted to end his misery by jumping into the Rhine. Madness had seized him with a clutch which was never to be released, except at short intervals. Every possible care was lavished on him by his heartbroken and devoted wife, and the assiduous attention of the friends who reverenced the genius now for ever quenched. The last two years of his life were spent in the private