Robert Schumann Society

In February 2007, the Robert Schumann Society Zwickau e. V. celebrated its 50th anniversary. Initiated by Martin Kreisig, the meritorious founder of the Schumann Museum and honorary citizen of the city of Zwickau in 1920, the society found its activities suspended after the Second World War. In 1949, however, it began to operate once more, now under the Kulturbund (Cultural League). On 14th March 1957 it was refounded as an organisation.

In the run-up to the 1st International Robert Schumann Competition and the large Schumann Festival of 1956, which took place almost simultaneously in Berlin and Zwickau, the renowned conductor Hermann Abendroth (1883-1956) was invited to chair the newly founded society and declared himself willing to take on the office.

As a consequence of Abendroth's demise in May 1956, the society's founding was postponed. His place was taken by the Dresden musicologist Prof. Dr. Karl Laux (1896-1978), who had already served the »old« society as secretary. Karl Laux was at the helm of the society as President until 1976 and thereafter as Honorary President until his death in June 1978. The staging of annual Schumann Music Days and the joint staging of the International Robert Schumann Competition for Piano and Voice, held in Zwickau since 1963, are among the high points of the activities of the Schumann Society at this time.

One negative point was certainly the state-ordered »separation« from the Schumann Friends in Western Germany (who had flocked to the Frankfurt »subsidiary« since 1956, and later to the Düsseldorf Society), which finally made a purely GDR association out of the Zwickau Society. That the atmosphere of the Zwickau Music Festivals and Competitions remained open and friendly is a different story.

Laux' successor as president was the pianist Dieter Zechlin (b. 1926). Due to his numerous engagements in Berlin, he was hardly active in the life of the Society (if one disregards his chairing of the jury in many Schumann competitions) and stepped down from all of his offices in January 1990.

He was followed by Martin Schoppe (1936-1998), a personality who had contributed to the cultivation of Schumann in Zwickau as director of the Schumann House and as a longtime chairman of the Schumann Competitions. It was incumbent upon the new board, with Martin Schoppe, Albrecht Hofmann, Gerd Nauhaus and Monika Mainz as its executive committee, and with the Lord Mayor Rainer Eichhorn and other persons as members of the board, to organize the Society as a »registered association« and open it to members from all over the world. Today, the membership includes friends of music not only from Zwickau and all over Germany, but also notable artists and musicologists from, amongst others, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, China, Russia, France, Great Britain, Mexico, Canada, Austria, Switzerland and the USA. When Martin Schoppe retired at the end of 1996, the Society awarded him an honorary membership, which had previously been given to the conductor Kurt Masur along with the pianist Annerose Schmidt, amongst others. He was succeeded by the musicologist Prof. Dr. Helmut Loos (b. 1950) as new chairman. In 1998, the board was expanded to include deputies from various musical committees and institutions. From 2002-2006, in the conductor and MD Albrecht Hofmann, a deserving personality from the musical life of Zwickau, served as Chairman of the Robert Schumann Society. From 1977-1994, he was Chief Musical Director of the Zwickau Theatre and has performed numerous famous and not-so-famous Schumann works here. As chairman he was replaced by the former Director of the Robert Schumann House, Dr. Gerd Nauhaus. His colleagues on the executive board include Dr. Thomas Synofzik, Dr. Ute Bär and Martin John, while the extended board includes, amongst others, the Lord Mayoress Dr. Pia Findeiß. Today, the Robert Schumann Society puts on concerts, presentations and conferences, publishes the series Schumann Studien (ed. by the chairman
Dr. Gerd Nauhaus and the scientific secretary Dr. Ute Bär in the Studio-Verlag of Dr. Gisela Schewe/Sinzig), supports the publication of the new Schumann Collected Works Edition and the Schumann Letters Edition. It also supports the Zwickau Music Days, Schumann Festivals and the International Robert Schumann Competi-
tions for Piano and Voice, as well as selecting the candidates for the Robert Schumann Prize, which has been awarded by the city of Zwickau since 1964.

The Society is also a sponsor of the Robert Schumann House and supports, in particular, the acquisition of original and other documents for the House's internationally renowned archive.

Robert Schumann House
Hauptmarkt 5
D - 08056 Zwickau
Tel.: 0049 - (0)375 - 83 44 01
Fax: 0049 - (0)375 - 83 44 99