In the life of ROBERT SCHUMANN, the early 1840s marked a particularly happy time. After more than five years of battle with his former teacher, Friedrich Wieck, Schumann managed to overcome his opposition and on 12 September 1840 married Wieck’s daughter, talented pianist and composer Clara Wieck. She became his closest adviser and an ardent champion of his music, regularly including pieces by her husband in the programs of her frequent concerts. Together with her, Schumann undertook trips to Russia, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Dresden, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. He enjoyed his growing prestige and reputation, received invitations to teach at the first German conservatory in Leipzig founded by Mendelssohn, and continued his active journalistic work as editor and permanent author in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (‘New Music Magazine’), a periodical edition founded and published by himself. Schumann also expanded the generic range of his output, writing apart from his solo piano compositions vocal settings on texts by Eichendorf, Heine, Chamisso, Goethe, Rückert, Byron, Burns, etc.; chamber opuses (three string quartets, a piano quartet and quintet,) the oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri (‘Paradise and the Peri’), the Opera Genoveva.
It was during these years that his first symphonic works originated. In January 1841, in just four days, Schumann completed the first draft of his First Symphony, and it was premiered to great acclaim on March 31 by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn. During the following months, he sketched his Piano Concerto and simultaneously, over the course of the first week in June, he composed his next Symphony in D Minor, intended as a birthday present for Clara. In her diary on 31 May, Clara noted: “Robert’s mind is very creative now… [and] he began a symphony yesterday which is to consist of one movement, but with an Adagio and finale. I have heard nothing of it as yet, but from seeing Robert’s doings, and from hearing a wild D minor in the distance, I know in advance that this will be another work that is emerging from the depths of his soul.”