Conference-Festival: Performing Clara Schumann

Mon, 11/11/2019

To celebrate the bicentennial of Clara Schumann (née Wieck)’s birth, the conference “Performing Clara Schumann: Keyboard Legacies and Feminine Identities in the Long Romantic Tradition,” November 16–17, will present myriad interpretive opportunities for understanding the historical, cultural, and aesthetic milieu surrounding the virtuosa’s life and work. Conference events, ranging from individual paper presentations, to lecture recitals, to hands-on workshops, will be particularly invested in feminist contemplations of keyboard networks from Clara Schumann’s world to contemporary times. In addition, many will seek to rethink not only the composer’s historic achievements, but also her profound imprint on Romantic, post-, and ultra-“Romantic” performance traditions. 

Among invited guests is keynote speaker Natasha Loges (Royal College of Music), Julie Pedneault-Deslauriers (University of Ottawa), Styra Avins, and R. Larry Todd (Duke). Saturday conference events will be held in Barnes Hall, culminating in a concert at 8 pm which features performances from pianist David Keep (Eastman) and violinist Soo-Yeon Kim, pianists Junghwa Lee, Theodora Serbanescu-Martin, and Richard Valitutto, as well as other students and faculty from the Cornell Music Department. Sunday events include an improvisation workshop led by Professor Roger Moseley. Throughout the conference, there will be an open house at 726 University Ave, the hub of Cornell’s new Center for Historical Keyboards.

This event is jointly sponsored by the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards, the Department of Music, the Cornell Council for the Arts, the Institute for German Cultural Studies (IGCS), the Department of German Studies, and the Society for the Humanities.

For more information, please contact conference convenor Theodora Serbanescu-Martin (

Conference Schedule

Saturday, November 16

9:00: Introduction 

Session 1: 9:15-10:45 | Clara Schumann’s Musical Networks, Virtual and Vital (Barnes)

Bonny Miller (Independent), “Two Paths: Clara Wieck-Schumann and Augusta Browne (an American Doppelgänger?)” 

Ji Young Kim (Cornell University), “Clara Schumann and Jenny Lind in 1850” 

Styra Avins (Independent), “Fostering the Career of Johannes Brahms: Clara Schumann’s Essential Aid” 

10:45-11:00: Break

Session 2: 11:00-12:15 | New Theoretical Approaches to Clara Schumann’s Work (Barnes)

Julie Pedneault-Deslauriers (University of Ottawa), “Beyond Vierhebigkeit: phrase-structure and poetic meaning in four lieder by Clara Schumann” 

Karin Buer (University of Northern Colorado), “Extramusical References and Private Meaning in Clara Schumann’s Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann, Op. 20” (lecture-recital) 

12:15-1:15: Coffee & Pastries

Session 3: 1:15-2:15 | Reconfiguring Clara Schumann’s “Priestess” Reception (Barnes)

April Price (University of North Texas), “The Technological Priestess: Looking and Listening to Clara Schumann” 

Jacob Collins (Texas Christian University), “Making Waves: Contemporary New England Reception of Clara Schumann”

2:15-2:30: Break 

Session 4: 2:30-4:00 | Clara Schumann’s Pianistic Networks (Barnes)

Introduction to the Historical Keyboard Collection and Pre-Session Address (Theodora Serbanescu-Martin) 

Mikolaj Warszynski (Wirth Institute at the University of Alberta), “Clara Schumann's and Franz Liszt’s Virtuosities” 

Theodora Serbanescu-Martin (Cornell University), “Tightly Laced and Bound by Method: Clara Schumann’s Female Pianism and the Construction of Gender in Piano Technique”

4:00-5:00 Break and/or Instrument Petting Zoo at 726 University Ave

Conference Keynote: 5:00-6:00 | Clara Schumann’s Concert Legacy (Barnes)

Natasha Loges (Royal College of Music), “Re-Examining Clara Schumann’s Concert Legacy: Or, How to Get Men to Say (Mostly) What You Want”

8:00-10:00 Conference Concert: “Experiencing Clara Schumann’s Musical Environments” (Barnes)

Concert set-up features staging by Frederick Cruz Nowell and Theodora Serbanescu-Martin, which includes original nineteenth-century clothing items from the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection. Many thanks to the assistantship of Denise Green (Department of Fiber Science And Apparel Design) and Helen Mclallen. 

Concert participants include Richard Valitutto, Lucy Fitz-Gibbon and students, Theodora Serbanescu-Martin, David Keep (Eastman, piano) and Soo Yeon Kim (Houghton College, violin), Junghwa Lee (Southern Illinois University Carbondale, piano), Yijie Zhu (Cornell), Mikolaj Warszynski (University of Alberta), and Lucy Yao (Mannes).  

Repertoire includes Clara Schumann Souvenir de Vienne, Op. 9, Lieder Op. 13, 4 flüchtige Stücke, Op. 15, Romances Op. 11, Romances Op. 21, Scherzo in C minor Op. 14, Nocturne Op. 6, Liszt-C. & R. Schumann song transcriptions, Brahms Violin Sonata Op. 78, and others. 


Sunday, November 17

Session 5: 9:00-10:15 | Allusion and Friendship in Clara Schumann’s Works (Barnes) 

David Keep (Eastman), “Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7 and its Intertextual Resonances”

Katharina Uhde (Valparaiso University) and R. Larry Todd (Duke University), “Reimagining the Romance: Contextualizing Clara Schumann’s Op. 21 and 22” 

10:15-10:45: Coffee Break

Session 6: 10:45-12:00 | Performing Clara Schumann (Barnes) 

Morton Wan (Cornell University), Introduction & Chair

Anna Steppler (Cornell University), "Clara Schumann and Bach's 'Great' A minor: on Virtuosity and Pedaliter Organ Music at the Piano"

Mo-Ah Kim (University of Cincinnati), “The Art of Keyboard Preluding in the Nineteenth Century: A Re-Creation of Clara Schumann’s Performance on December 14, 1854” 

12:00-1:00: Break (lunch on your own)

Session 7: 1:00-2:00 | Improvisation Workshop (Barnes)

facilitated by Professor Roger Moseley

 2:00-2:15 Break

Final Session: 2:15-3:15 | Roundtable: “Clara Schumann’s Role in the Long History of Keyboards and Romantic Performance"

Clara Schumann