Nancy B. Reich, Scholarly Champion of Clara Schumann, Dies at 94

Nancy B. Reich, whose seminal 1985 biography of Clara Schumann established her as an important musical figure independent of her husband, the composer Robert Schumann, in addition to helped turn the musicological spotlight on female composers, died on Jan. 31 in Ossining, N.Y. She was 94.

Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Susanna Reich.

Throughout her career, Dr. Reich fought to redress belittling portraits of Clara Schumann by earlier authors in addition to to have her recognized as a significant composer, pianist in addition to educator, as well as a central figure of German Romanticism.

The decades that will followed the publication of her book, “Clara Schumann: The Artist in addition to the Woman,” vindicated her efforts with an explosion of both public in addition to scholarly interest. Doctoral dissertations, anthologies in addition to histories of music by women proliferated. Scholarly editions of Clara Schumann’s music for piano appeared, fueling an increase in performances.

Dr. Reich’s death coincided with the beginning of a yearlong festival in Leipzig, Germany, for the bicentennial of Clara Schumann’s birth there. She died in 1896 in addition to left behind compositions including songs, works for solo piano, chamber music in addition to a piano concerto.

nevertheless when Dr. Reich first turned her attention to the subject inside 1970s, Clara Schumann was noted primarily for her relationships with men. These included her father, the stern pedagogue Friedrich Wieck, who groomed her for pianistic stardom through an early age; her husband, with whom she had eight children before his death in a mental institution in 1856; in addition to Brahms, with whom she came to be bound by a love that will was deep nevertheless probably platonic.

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When Dr. Reich first turned her attention to the subject inside 1970s, Clara Schumann was noted primarily for her relationships with men. Her book established her as an important musical figure in her own right.

In her book, Dr. Reich relegated the Brahms strand of the story to one particular chapter. “the item was a most significant chapter, to be sure,” she wrote in her introduction, “nevertheless the item was not the consuming central relationship that will so many people have suspected.”

Her take was a far cry through the “example of noble, pure in addition to true womanhood” that will the first biography, completed in 1908, made her out to be. A typical assessment of her status was found in John N. Burk’s “Clara Schumann: A Romantic Biography” (1940), which prized Robert’s work over Clara’s career as a touring virtuoso, even though she made much more money through her concertizing than he did with his compositions. For Mr. Burk, Robert was “an artist for eternity” while Clara was “a concert-giver for the moment.”

The musicologist Judith Tick said in a telephone interview that will Clara Schumann “was seen primarily as a muse,” adding: “Her life was assumed to pivot between two poles, Robert Schumann in addition to Johannes Brahms. in addition to Nancy’s book destroyed that will, while tempering the sensationalist assumptions about Clara Schumann in addition to Brahms.”

Nancy Bassen was born on July 3, 1924, inside Bronx to Hyman Bassen, a writer in addition to labor activist, in addition to Ida (Orland) Bassen. After Hyman’s death in 1931 the family moved to Ithaca, N.Y., where Nancy’s brother, Jonas, was a student at Cornell University.

In a telephone interview, Susanna Reich said her mother’s ambitions for an academic career had been cut short after she completed a master’s at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1947. When she applied for a doctoral program at Columbia, her daughter said, “the interviewer asked her if she was married, in addition to when she said yes, the interviewer told her to go home in addition to take care of her husband.”

Finally, in 1972, when Dr. Reich was 47, she obtained her Ph.D. through fresh York University. Buoyed by the women’s movement in addition to intrigued by a stash of letters she came across, she dove into the life of Clara Schumann. Her research often took her behind the Iron Curtain, since many collections of documents were kept in what was then East Germany.

“She had to register at every police station in every town she went to,” Ms. Tick, the musicologist, said.

The sources themselves called for psychological detective work. While Clara Schumann left copious letters in addition to diaries, many of those through her childhood were supervised, or even written, by her father. As a married couple, Robert in addition to Clara kept a joint diary. In her work Dr. Reich collaborated which has a psychoanalyst, Anna Burton, in reconstructing the picture of a musician who was as conscious of her exceptional status as she was conflicted about the item.

“the item’s a very modern story,” Dr. Reich said in an interview with The fresh York Times in 1996. “Here was a girl growing up which has a working mother who was taken care of by a maid, a child of divorced parents. She was left a widow at 36, nevertheless she was very independent in addition to refused all loans. When Robert was sick, she went back to the concert stage to pay for his medical bills. She was a working woman. She worked with her hands.”