Clara Schumann was a prominent pianist of the Romantic era, a notable composer, and a dedicated music teacher. While she is best known today for being the wife of Robert Schumann, Clara had already established an international reputation as a concert pianist at the time of her marriage, whereas Robert’s work was still relatively unknown. Clara’s piano studies began at age five with her father, Friedrich Wieck. His holistic approach to teaching emphasized balance between technique, ear training, and composition. While her relationship with her father was fraught with conflict, she continued his teaching philosophy with her own students. Her father also had a strong hand in her performance career, which began when she was nine, the same age she began composing.
Like most notable pianists of the nineteenth century, Clara was known for improvising preludes during her concerts, a practice demonstrated in this recording of the Piano Trio in G minor. Throughout the typical four-movement sonata form, each instrument is given equal representation and thematic material ranges from playful to melancholy. Composed during a time of immense personal turmoil for Clara, this piece is her only piano trio but is considered one of her greatest masterpieces.