Important Manuscripts, Continental Books and Music

Important Manuscripts, Continental Books and Music

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 83. R. Schumann. Autograph love-poem written for Clara Wieck during their courtship, November 1838.

R. Schumann. Autograph love-poem written for Clara Wieck during their courtship, November 1838

Auction Closed

June 11, 02:50 PM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 GBP

Lot Details



Remarkable autograph manuscript of the love poem "Egmont's Geliebte Klärchen hiess", written for Clara Wieck during their courtship, [November 1838]

comprising an untitled poem of eleven stanzas, written in brown ink, comprising forty lines of irregular length and metre, with one word immediately deleted and rewritten, opening with a reference to Goethe's Egmont, and Beethoven's music for the play, diverging markedly from the final version published in the complete scholarly edition

Egmont’s Geliebte Klärchen hieß --

O Name wundersüß!

Lorbeeren der Künstlerin

Nicht übel stehn --

Myrthe dem Mädchen

Ueber Alles schön.

Ich hab eine gute Braut --

Wer sie geschaut,

Auf Weibertreue baut.

Perlen gäb’ ich ihr gerne

Und wohl auch einige Sterne--

Am liebsten brächt am Treualter

Ich knieend eine Ring ihr dar!

Eine Clara soll meinen Namen zieren

Und wenn wir zusammen musicieren,

Die Engel im Himmel muß es rühren [...]

3 pages, 8vo (c.15.5 x 10cm), on decorative stationary, coloured and gilt, showing a troubadour serenading a lady, no place or date, [Vienna, probably 13 November 1838], blue morocco gilt folder and slipcase, lettered "Robert Schumann Gedicht Ms."), minor creasing and browning, rust-staining to edges from old paper-clips

THIS POEM IS PART OF ONE OF THE CLASSIC REAL-LIFE LOVE STORIES OF THE ROMANTIC ERA.  Robert and Clara Schumann are artists as closely linked in music as Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are in literature. Clara was among the foremost European pianists of the nineteenth century, and both as a woman and a performer, she inspired many of Schumann's important piano works of this time, among them the F-sharp minor Sonata, the Fantasy op.17, the G minor Sonata op.22 (composed at the time of this poem), and the Davidsbündlertänze, culminating eventually in the great year of song in 1840.

The love story began properly in 1835, when Clara Wieck was sixteen years old, the daughter of Schumann's former piano teacher Friedrich Wieck. By the end of the year, her father had discovered their secret trysts and became implacably opposed to the match, which grew in strength through stolen meetings and voluminous correspondence during 1837-1840. Wieck engaged in a long campaign to separate the pair, dispatching Clara on concert tours, even threatening to disinherit her, preventing their marriage until September 1840. At the time Schumann wrote this poem, he was better known as a music critic than a composer, whilst she was a pianist with an international reputation, especially in Paris and Vienna.  Wieck's reservations regarding Schumann were not wholly without justification, but his behaviour became increasingly erratic and deranged. In 1840 the composer was forced to take Wieck to court for slander; he won the case, allowing him to finally marry Clara against her father's wishes. 

Schumann appears to mention the present verses in his diary for 13 November 1838 ("I was overcome with the urge to write little poems which I could not stop"), and culminated in the "Kleine Verse" dated 14 and 15 November, which he sent to Clara. Nevertheless, that final version, included by Clara in her "Brautbuch" (now at the Robert-Schumann-Haus in Zwickau), is very different from this draft and, at 150 lines, much longer. Yet, some verses found here are not in the final version and others appear altered or re-ordered. Both manuscripts are written on the same decorative paper, showing a troubadour singing to his beloved. Schumann described himself as a 'troubadour' kneeling before his beloved in a letter of 19 September, a time of enforced separation: he stuck in Vienna, Clara giving concerts in Dresden and Leipzig, and a tour of Paris being planned by her father. In this poem Schumann declares himself: "Ich knieend eine Ring ihr dar!".

The connection between Robert's courtship with Clara and Count Egmont's with his beloved Clärchen is notable. Egmont had cropped up in their letters throughout 1838, Schumann focussing on the love story in Goethe's play, Clara expressing admiration for Beethoven's music, in particular Clärchen's Lied 'Freudvoll und leidvoll'. Wolfgang Kinderman observes that Schumann saw the vicissitudes of his long courtship with Clara reflected in Egmont's love for Clärchen: "The quintessential Beethovenian narrative of love overcoming adversity helped them deal with their painful separation and maintain confidence in a shared future" (cf W. Kinderman, The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtag, 2012, p.86). The two finally married in September 1840; it was the resolution of this yearning that inspired Schumann's remarkable outpouring of songs composed in that year.  


E.B.Venator, 'Drei neu aufgefundene Schumann-Dokumente', in Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, IX (1971), 584-585 (reproduced in an altered format). For the final version in Zwickau, see Schumann Briefedition, I/5 Briefwechsel von Clara und Robert Schumann, volume 2, edited by A. Mühlenweg (2013), no.138 ; Robert Schumann. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke VII/3/3/2, 'Brautbuch' (2011), 70-94; B. Litzmann, Clara Schumann, Eine Künstlerleben, I. Mädchenjahre (1906 ), 255-258


Provenance: Eugenie Schumann, Clara's youngest daughter; Sattler Family by descent; Gerhard Sattler, Zurich (1971); Sotheby's London, 28 November 1986, lot 638.

For Schumann's song "Erstes Grün", see the advertisement at the end of this catalogue for the sale "Autographes et Manuscrits" in Paris on 22 May.