HISTORIC KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS IN THE ROBERT SCHUMANN HOUSE
The grand piano made by André Stein (1776-1842) in Vienna is numbered 513 and was commissioned by Friedrich Wieck for his daughter Clara. An entry from 1828 in the young Clara’s diary reads: “On the 4th of March I received the cherry wood 6-octave grand piano which had been ordered for me from Mr Stein in Vienna (Archive, Robert Schumann House). On the 20th October 1828, the nine-year-old Clara Wieck played on the instrument at her first public performance in the Leipzig Gewandhaus (cloth hall). Father Wieck later sold the instrument to friends, the Focke family, whose great-great grandson made a gift of it to the Zwickau Schumann Museum in 1911. In 1995/96 it was expertly restored by Robert A. Brown (Arnsdorf near Salzburg). The Zwickau grand piano served as the model for the image on the reverse of the former 100 DM banknotes.

 

The Physharmonica is from the estate of Friedrich Wieck. It was built in Vienna around 1825. Clara Wieck received a similar Physharmonica, built by Joseph Carl Fuchs (1789-1832) on the 10th of March 1828 as an improvisation and travel instrument. This was a forerunner of the later Harmonium. The wind is generated by the left pedal; the volume can be reduced during playing by opening a wind-release vent with the right pedal. A brass knob on the left side of the keyboard provides the same function. Marie Wieck sold the instrument to the Schumann collector Alfred Wiede in Weißenborn; he then made a gift of it to the Zwickau Schumann Museum on the 21st of April 1917.

 

The table piano, constructed around 1840, comes from the business of Ernst Rosenkranz (1773-1828), founded in 1797. In 1970 it was donated to the Robert Schumann House and is of particular importance because Friedrich Wieck often traded with instruments by Rosenkranz and Clara Wieck played on them several times.
Table pianos mostly served as affordable household instruments. Clara Wieck noted in her diary “I have no love for pianos in table form because they usually do not have sufficient tone” (Archive, Robert Schumann House).

 

The pedal keyboard, presumed to date from the 19th century, was formerly in the possession of the Paulus-Gemeinde Marienthal (St Paul’s Parish of Marienthal).
It used to be combined with a grand or upright piano which was moved to a higher position. String choirs run underneath the pedal keyboard which are struck by a hammer mechanism on the far end. Such a “Pedal under the Grand Piano” was rented by Robert and Clara Schumann in the spring of 1845 so that they could practice playing the organ. Robert Schumann developed a particular interest in this combination instrument and wrote the Studies in canonical Form op. 56, the Sketches op. 58 and (as an alternative to the organ version) the Fugues on BACH op. 60 for “Pedal Grand Piano”. The currently unrestored instrument is in search of patrons and sponsors to return it to a playable condition.

 

A grand piano believed to have been constructed around 1870 is by Ludwig Bösendorfer (1835-1919) who had taken over his father’s business in 1859. The instrument uses the traditional Viennese mechanism, however with much larger and heavier hammerheads than those on the Clara Wieck grand piano built four decades previously. A further important deviation between the two instruments is the cast iron frame on the Bösendorfer instrument. Unlike on today’s grand pianos, on this historic instrument there is no cross stringing whereby the longer bass strings run diagonally across the treble strings. Thus, here the tonal colours of the individual registers are, as with a singing voice, more greatly differentiated in tone.

 

A grand piano built by Wilhelm Wieck (1828-1874), a cousin of Clara Schumann’s, in Dresden has a range of 6 ¾ Octaves (AAA-g’’’’). Since the 1970s it has belonged to the collections of the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau but hasnever been displayed because it is not in playing condition.