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Robert Schumann (German: [ˈʃuːman]; 8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck, a German pianist, 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 wrote exclusively for the piano until 1840. Later, he composed piano and orchestral works, many Lieder (songs for voice and piano). He composed four symphonies, one opera, and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. His most famous works include Carnaval, Symphonic Studies, Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, and the Fantasie in C. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication that he co-founded. In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, after winning a long and acrimonious legal battle with her father, who opposed the marriage. Clara Schumann also composed music. Before her marriage, her considerable career as a pianist provided a substantial part of her father's income. Schumann suffered from a mental disorder that first manifested itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode—which recurred several times alternating with phases of "exaltation" and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted at his own request to a mental asylum in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with psychotic melancholia, Schumann died two years later in 1856 at the age of 46 without recovering from his mental illness.

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