The house at Inselstraße 18 was built in the classicistic style by Friedrich August Scheidel in 1838. On Clara’s 21st birthday (Sept. 13, 1840) the newlywed Schumanns moved into their first shared domicile in an up-and-coming new quarter which was developing into the centre of the book trade. Numerous publishers and printing businesses set up shop here, including Breitkopf & Härtel and C. F. Peters as well as F. A. Brockhaus and Reclam.
Clara and Robert Schumann spent the first four happy years of their marriage at Leipzig’s Inselstraße.
The young couple lived here from 1840 (when they were the first tenants) to 1844.
The piano was the “favourite instrument” for both Clara and Robert Schumann. Since Robert, however, was unable to play due to the paralysis of his finger, the grand piano was the domain of his wife.
Clara and Robert Schumann: Twelve Poems from Rückert‘s Liebesfrühling for voice and pianoforte Op. 37 by Clara and Robert Schumann
Robert: „Spring Symphony“ Op. 38
Liederkreis Op. 39
Three String Quartets Op. 41
Piano Quintet Op. 44 (premiered by Clara and others at the Gewandhaus)
Clara: Six Songs with Pianoforte Accompaniment: she gave No. 2 “Sie liebten sich beide” (Heine) and No. 3 “Liebeszauber” (Geibel) to Robert for his birthday on June 8, 1842
Deuxième Scherzo in C-minor Op. 14
One special feature of the house are the marriage diaries kept here by the Schumanns. Taking turns from week to week, Clara and Robert wrote entries on their shared life. Both documented only the first four years of their married life in Leipzig. Thus, the books offer unique testimony on the Leipzig period of the two married artists.
In October 1840, Robert Schumann reports on the first soirée at their shared flat: “Thursday evening is a red-letter event. ‘First soirée at Madame Schumann’s’ – Klara looked very fine in her cap. Almost 20 guests, including a Prince. Klara played the Trios I mentioned above; Elise [List] sang a couple of my songs, and one by Mendelssohn, though none of them entirely well. Klara made up for it by bathing the entire company in beautiful music, so that in the end she also seemed drenched and was fresh and cheerful. The farewells at midnight were the same.”
The first two children of the Schumanns, Marie and Elise, were born at Inselstraße in 1841 and 1843.
Today’s Schumann-Saal, then a jointly used salon, was among the city’s cultural centres during the Schumann’s times. Here, the two artists regularly welcomed famous personalities such as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz and Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient. The Schumanns also had a close relationship with the family of the economist Friedrich List.
Robert noted his favourite foods in his diary on September 15, 1837, describing them as a ‘bill of fare of one intent on saving’: “Simple and hearty is the highest motto. I do like having more than one dish, but it’s not necessary – soups above all. Nothing fatty, nothing sweet. Favourite dishes: beef with rice, noodles or barley etc. Veal, mutton. Pork more rarely, if it’s not fatty. Roasts, all of them unless they’re fatty – no dishes with flour, none at all. Egg dishes welcome. Soups, broths, very welcome. No fruits or preserves. Salads, sour dishes welcome. All fish too, except for eel. Vegetables very welcome, except the sweet ones, such as carrots etc.”
This instruction was intended for Clara Wieck as his future wife as well. However, cooking was not her forte. Despite this, we can assume that meals at Inselstraße were guided by these criteria.
The couple’s favourite drink was champagne. Clara and Robert liked discussing musical issues while enjoying a glass of the delicious beverage and served it for special occasions too.
Since 2019 the Schumann-Haus Leipzig has been home to the world’s first museum dedicated to a married couple of musicians. The permanent exhibition An Artists’ Marriage: An Experiment strives to inspire visitors to find their personal perspective on the Schumanns, building a bridge between history and our times. The six rooms, including the historical Schumann-Saal, allow visitors to discover the couple’s Leipzig period through all our senses. Among the innovate highlights of the new exhibition is Claras Hand, an installation by Erwin Stache which enables the visitor to make notes and entire works by the pianist resound. Inside the Experimental Marriage Space, six projectors transform a room into three different themed worlds. The author Magdalene Melchers developed “visualized features” for this purpose, illustrating the conflicts between love and art, the joy and burden of children, a richness in gifts and a struggle for money in image and sound.
Furthermore, the concert tours they embarked upon from Leipzig to Denmark and Russia and Clara Schumann’s education are topics of the exhibition. The Listening Cabinet offers a chance to hear and study works composed by Clara and Robert in Leipzig. Erwin Stache’s sound installation, already inaugurated in 2015, offers a chance for musical experimentation.
Every year, the historical Schumann-Saal hosts up to 40 events.
Together with the Independent Elementary School “Clara Schumann”, the Schumann-Verein Leipzig e.V. and the Rahn Dittrich Group, which prevented the house from falling into disrepair by purchasing it in 1999, a unique symbiosis of museum, event location and education facility has been created – a school at a museum, or a museum inside a school?