August Schumann (1773 - 1826), father

August Schumann
[fig.1]

August Schumann (1773 - 1826) at the age of 37
Father of Robert Schumann
Painting by L. Glaeser, 1810
Robert-Schumann-Haus Zwickau

August Schumann
[fig. 2]

August Schumann (1773- 1826)
Steel engraving published in the biography about the bookseller, editor and writer August Schumann; edited by Karl Ernst Richter, teacher of Robert Schumann at the secondary school in Zwickau
Robert-Schumann-Haus Zwickau



August Schumann was born in Endschütz on 2nd March 1773 as the son of a poor pastor. He completed a commercial apprenticeship in Ronneburg between 1788 and 1791 but was much more interested in the arts and wanted to become a writer. He tried to pursue his interests in literature as a studiosus humaniorum at Leipzig University but had to abandon his studies due to financial constraints. In 1793, August Schumann published his first book, a play titled Die Familie Thalheim [The Thalheim Family]. When August Schumann worked as a bookshop assistant in Zeitz in 1793, he fell in love with Christiane Schnabel – the father, Abraham Schnabel, however, made the marriage conditional on August Schumann opening his own sales shop. After August Schumann had established his own bookshop in Ronneburg in 1795, he married Christiane Schnabel on 25th October 1795. The marriage produced the following children: Emilie (1796–1825), Eduard (1799–1839), Carl (1801–1849), Julius (1804–1833), and Robert (1810–1856).

In 1808, the family moved to Zwickau where August Schumann continued the family bookshop and publishing house called “Gebrüder Schumann [Schumann brothers]” (his brother Friedrich had opened a bookshop in Zwickau in 1807, one year earlier). August Schumann converted his book collection consisting of some 4,000 volumes into a private lending library, a library on which Robert Schumann drew as well. In 1810, August Schumann published a first series of classics in paperback format available at affordable prices, and also wrote novels, academic books and translations. In addition, he was a publisher of various collected works and established a weekly paper. It was mainly thanks to August Schumann’s activities that Zwickau became a leading town in the German book trade around 1820.

August Schumann was described as quiet, introverted and hard-working, who supported Robert Schumann’s artistic development from an early stage. For instance, around 1824, he bought a Viennese Streicher grand piano for Robert, and in 1825/26, he tried to arrange for lessons with Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), which, however, did not materialise due to Weber’s early passing. August Schumann passed away in Zwickau on 10th August 1826, leaving his family an estate of 60,000 thalers. Robert’s eldest brother Eduard continued the bookshop and publishing house, in 1824 as a co-owner, from 1826 together with his brother Julius, and from 1833 as the sole owner.

Cf. Ernst Burger: Robert Schumann. Eine Lebenschronik in Bildern und Dokumenten. Unter Mitarbeit von Gerd Nauhaus und mit Unterstützung des Robert-Schumann-Hauses Zwickau, Mainz et al., 1999, p. 13.
Cf. Barbara Meier: Robert Schumann, Hamburg, 2010, pp. 8–11.
Cf. Schumann-Briefedition, Series I, Vol. 1: Familienbriefwechsel (Briefwechsel mit den Verwandten in Zwickau und Schneeberg), edited by Thomas Synofzik and Michael Heinemann, Cologne, 2019, pp. 41–45, 974.

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Th. Henninger)

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