Isata Kanneh-Mason celebrates the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann's birth

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann's birth and ahead of her performance at Symphony Hall with brother Sheku Kanneh-Mason next year, Isata Kanneh-Mason celebrates the life and music of the 19th-century German pianist and composer.

Following the release of her debut album Romance, which champions Clara Schumann's work and topped the UK Classical Artist Chart, Isata visited her birthplace in Leipzig. 

Discussing her visit she said: "Walking around the small space where Clara lived with Robert and their young family gave me a fascinating insight into her personal life and has really enhanced my understanding of her music...I was intrigued to see that although she was a small, slender woman, she had very big hands – which explains the virtuosity of her music and why some parts are quite tricky to play. I find myself leaping about the piano to compensate for having slightly smaller hands than she did."

Clara Schumann was a child prodigy. Her father made her practise for two hours a day alongside her daily piano, violin, singing, theory, harmony, composition and counterpoint lessons. At the age of 13, she was one of the first pianists to perform from memory.

She met composer Robert Schumann when she was only eight years old and they eventually married in Leipzig in 1840 – the day before Clara’s 21st birthday.

The more I read about Clara, the more inspiring she was to me. I like to think of her as the Beyoncé of her day: a successful artist, capable of balancing motherhood with touring, married to a fellow musician and a truly independent woman!

Isata Kanneh-Mason, The Guardian

On Friday 13 September, Isata will pay tribute to Clara Schumann by returning to Leipzig to perform on her “Wieck” piano at the gala reopening of the Schumann-Haus.