Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law to return to music, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.
Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.
In 1840, Schumann married pianist Clara Wieck, daughter of his former teacher, when she legally came of age at 21. They no longer needed her father's consent, which had been the subject of a long and acrimonious legal battle. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career.
For the last two years of his life, after an attempted suicide, Schumann was confined to a mental institution, at his own request.