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Robert SchumannRobert Alexander Schumann was born in the small riverside town ofZwickau Saxony in 1810The youngest of five children Robert Schumannwas brought up in comfortable middle-class respectability As a child heapparently exhibited no remarkable abilitiesAt the age of six Robert was sent to the local preparatory school runby Archdeacon Dohner He had in fact already begun his education with theyoung tutor who gave lessons in exchange for board and lodging at theSchumann home At the age of seven Robert received his first piano lessons fromJohann Gottfried Kuntzsch organist at St Marys Church and schoolmasterat the Zwickau Lyceum Kuntzsch was a kindly conservative musician oflimited abilities his knowledge stemmed from leisure-time studyNevertheless Robert was soon improvising and even composing a set ofdances for the pianoRoberts musical talent was recognized by his father He bought anexpensive Streicher grand piano for his son and soon four-handedarrangements of the classics were heard in the Schumann home With afriend named Friedrich Piltzing another pupil of Kuntzchs Robert started toexplore Haydn Mozart and BeethovenAs a child Schumann took part in several concerts at the ZwickauLyceum He once played Moscheles Alexander March variations whichdemanded considerable dexterityAt the public Lyceum Robert was active as both pianist and publicspeaker When he was fourteen Kuntzsch decided that his pupil hadprogressed beyond the point where he could give further help and declined toteach him anymore Shortly before leaving the Lyceum Schumann collaborated with hisbrother Karl in preparing a new edition of Forcellinis Latin dictionaryLexicon Totius Latinatinis Although now very busy as a composer Robert yearned for affectionHe soon fell for seventeen-year-old Ernestine von Fricken who came toLeipzig in April 1834 to live in at the Wiecks and to study with Clarasfather She had grown up in the little town of Asch with her father Baronvon Fricken and was the illegitimate daughter of Countess ZedtwitzAt the beginning of September 1835 Robert and Ernestine weresecretly engaged Within days Baron von Fricken heard that something wasafoot arrived in Leipzig
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