Clara Schumann still lives, though becoming fast an old woman in years, if still young in heart, and still able to win the admiration of the musical world by her splendid playing. Berlioz, who heard her in her youth, pronounced her the greatest virtuoso in Germany, in one of his letters to Heine; and while she was little more than a child she had gained the heartiest admiration in England, France, and Germany. Henry Chorley heard her at Leipzig in 1839, and speaks of “the organ-playing on the piano of Mme. Schumann (better known in England under the name of Clara Wieck), who commands her instrument with the enthusiasm of a sibyl and the grasp of a man.” Since Schumann’s death, Mme. Schumann has been known as the exponent of her husband’s works, which she has performed in Germany and England with an insight, a power of conception, and a beauty of treatment which have contributed much to the recognition of his remarkable genius.
The name of Frederic Francis Chopin is so closely linked in the minds of musical students with that of Schumann in that art renaissance which took place almost simultaneously in France and Germany, when so many daring and original minds broke loose from the petrifactions of custom and tradition, that we shall not venture to separate them here. Chopin was too timid and gentle to be a bold aggressor, like Berlioz, Liszt, and Schumann, but his whole nature responded to the movement, and his charming and most original compositions, which glow with the fire of a genius perhaps narrow in its limits, have never been surpassed for their individuality and poetic beauty. The present brief sketch of Chopin does not propose to consider his life biographically, full of pathos and romance as that life may be.*
* See article Chopin, in “Great German Composers.”