Clara Schumann (née Wieck) and her World

International Bicentenary Conference

Date: 14–16 June 2019

Venue: Lady Margaret Hall

 University of Oxford

This three-day conference, the first of its kind, brought together an international cohort of scholars from Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the UK, and the USA to mark the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth. It included two keynote lectures by Dr Natasha Loges (Royal College of Music) and Professor Susan Youens (University of Notre Dame), seventeen individual presentations, two lecture-recitals, and a moving performance of Clara Schumann’s songs and piano music by Dr Aisling Kenny, Cecily Lock, and Cheryl Tan. The spirit of collegiality that was palpable throughout the proceedings provided the foundations for stimulating conversations and lively debates, confirming that it is altogether an exciting time for women’s studies in music.

At the heart of the conference was a desire to reanimate the musical and cultural contexts in which Clara Schumann lived and worked. To this end, analytical papers on the aesthetic and expressive worlds of her music were coupled with discussions of places and people, pedagogy and performance culture, reception and legacy. Among the topics under consideration were Clara Schumann’s relationships with members of her intimate circle, her legacy as teacher, the reception history of her performance career, her innovative treatment of form and tonality in instrumental genres, and the poetics of her Lieder. What emerged from the approach of moving freely between music and hermeneutic contexts was a vivid picture of Clara Schumann’s artistic vision, together with an enriched understanding of the significant contribution she made to nineteenth-century life and culture.

The organizers express gratitude to the following organizations for their support of the conference: The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), Oxford’s Faculty of Music, Music & Letters, and The Royal Musical Association.

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