February 14, 2011
The love affair between Robert and Clara Schumann was ill-fated from the beginning. Clara was the daughter of a renowned piano teacher and a child prodigy due to her ambitious father and daily lessons in piano, violin, singing, harmony, composition and counterpoint. She met her future husband when he came to study under her father in 1830. Robert was a gifted pianist and composer. He proposed to Clara in 1837, but unfortunately her father withheld his consent for three years. Finally in 1840 they married, one day before Clara's 21st birthday and went on to have 8 children together. Their lives were very tumultuous, riddled with mental illness, but Clara's resilience shone through as she brought up her children alone by giving recitals all over Europe while burnishing her late husband's reputation as a composer.

This letter was Clara's response to Robert's marriage proposal.

To Robert Schumann
Sent from Leipzig, 15 August 1837

You require but a simple 'Yes'? Such a small word - but such an important one. But should not a heart so full of unutterable love as mine utter this little word with all it's might? I do so and my innermost soul whispers always to you.

The sorrows of my heart, the many tears, could I depict them to you - oh no! Perhaps fate will ordain that we see each other soon and then - your intention seems risky to me and yet a loving heart does not take much count of dangers. But once again I say to you 'Yes'. Would God make my eighteenth birthday a day of woe? Oh no! that would be too horrible. Besides I have long felt 'it must be', nothing in the world shall persuade me to stray from what I think right and I will show my father that the youngest of hearts can also be steadfast in purpose.

Your Clara

I happened to come across another beautiful love letter posted by the Art of Manliness - written by a man on the eve of battle. Check it out.

Excerpt taken from "Love Letters of Great Women" edited by Ursula Doyle, St. Martin's Press


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