Robert und Clara Schumann in Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden became in the 19th century the Capitale d’été (‚summer hot spot‘) and a popular spa region, where the curing of diseases was often only minor matter. The house of conversation - spa house today - was a popular meeting place for guests from literature, music, art, science and nobility. Robert Schumann also has thrice visited Baden-Baden.

On 5 and 6 July 1829 and on 5 and 6 August 1830, happy summer tours took place for the Heidelberg law student who hardly studied but certainly played a lot of piano and enjoyed life with his fellow students to the fullest.

With his friends, he visited casino and theater, flirted and in 1830, he met the young but already very successful violinist Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, which encouraged him to become a musician. At that time he also played on a piano in the house of conversation pieces for piano by Franz Schubert, his favorite composer.

On 23 July 1851, Schumann spent a whole day in Baden-Baden with his wife Clara on the way to Switzerland. In the house of conversation, he met the pianist and composer Johann Peter Pixis, who lived in Baden-Baden, the Donaueschingen court bandmaster Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda, whose works he admired and whom he devoted his "Intermezzi" op. 4, as well as Kalliwoda’s son Wilhelm, who was an in Karlsruhe acting composer, conductor and pianist Wilhelm Kalliwoda and also the well-known cellist Bernard Crossmann. Diary entries tell of Schumann's participation in the social life in Baden-Baden during all three visits.

Clara Schumann decided in 1862 – six years after Robert Schumann’s death – to purchase a home for her and her children in Lichtental and acquired with the help of a friend, the famous singer Pauline Viradot, from the advocate’s widow Becker, a little house on Lichtentaler Allee (today Hauptstrasse 8). From 1863 until 1873, she lived there with her family.

Gedenktafel am ehemaligen Wohnhaus von Clara-Schumann
[fig. 2]

Commemorative plaque at the former home of Clara Schumann (today privately owend), Hauptstrasse 8, Baden-Baden. Founded and inaugurated in 1959 by the Frankfurt Robert-Schumann-Society (Photo: Eva M. Gehann)

The most famous pianist of her century prepared here during the summer her international concert tours for the upcoming season, taught, met with family and international friends and performed in Baden-Baden, the "Capitale d'été" in both salons – e.g. Viardot - and in public concerts. She often gave concerts with her lifelong friend, Johannes Brahms, who from 1865 onwards regularly moved to a summer apartment close by Clara’s house and created or finished major compositions (until 1874). Today's "Brahms' House", Maximilianstrasse 85, can be visited.

Baden-Baden, Blick vom Gesellschaftshaus, um 1850
[fig. 3]

Baden-Baden, view from conversation house, around 1850