A ruined finger prevented him from pursuing a career as a virtuoso pianist, but he was an avid reader of the Romantic poets Jean Paul and E. T. A. Hoffmann, not to mention a brilliant music critic – and the first great composer of piano music and art songs (lieder), as well as symphonies and concertos in the post-classical era. From the Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) to Davidsbündler–Tänze (Florestan Dance), trios and quartettes, all the way to cello concertos, from the song-cycle Dichterliebe (The Poet's Love ) through to the great choral works, his work became part of music history virtually the moment they were written. The conductor and musicologist Peter Gülke explains Schumann's music and the circumstances under which it was created, disputing many firmly held views and exposing clichés to critical questioning. Gülke argues that, in the case of Schumann, the biographical and compositional aspects are particularly inextricably linked. From his marriage to the pianist Clara Wieck all the way to his death in an insane asylum – his was a life caught between creativity and melancholia.
Imbued whole-heartedly with the spirit of music, informed by a singularly impartial analytic approach and offering captivating descriptions of Schumann's music, Gülke provides profound insights into the very heart of German Romanticism.