©Sven Arnstein/Georgia Oetker

This is an archived event

Lucy Parham/Harriet Walter

I, Clara - A Life in Music

Lucy Parham piano Harriet Walter narrator

'One of the must-see events on the musical calendar' BBC Music Magazine

Created to celebrate the bicentenary of Clara Schumann’s birth, I, Clara tells her extraordinary life story in her own words and music. It's the sixth Composer Portrait created by Lucy Parham, and will be performed with Dame Harriet Walter.

Clara Schumann was a truly exceptional woman; devoted wife to composer Robert Schumann, groundbreaking musician in her own right. Over a period of 60 years she gave over 1,500 concerts and established the format of piano recital that is familiar to us today.

As a child prodigy, she was groomed for stardom by her piano-teacher father, Friedrich Wieck. By the age of eight she was dazzling audiences throughout Europe. She married Robert against her father’s wishes, and became the mother of eight children. When her husband declined tragically into mental illness and attempted suicide, she continued to run the household while making an international concert career to support the family.

Clara championed the works of her husband and of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms and many others. She was also a talented composer, producing a piano concerto, numerous solo piano works, chamber music and songs.

The narrative of I, Clara, drawn from letters and diaries, is interspersed with live performances of her works, and of music by Robert Schumann, Brahms, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Chopin.


Pianist Lucy Parham applies her sensitivity and imagination not only to concertos and recitals, but also to portraits in words and music of Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Liszt and Debussy. Lucy is also regarded as a leading interpreter of the music of both Robert and Clara Schumann.


Dame Harriet Walter trained at LAMDA, and has worked extensively in theatre, television, film and radio. Most recently she was Livia in Women Beware Women at the Olivier NT. She is an associate artist with the RSC, where she played Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra (alongside Patrick Stewart), Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Lady Macbeth (opposite Anthony Sher), The Duchess of Malfi, All’s Well That Ends Well (with Peggy Ashcroft) Twelfth Night and Three Sisters (winning an Olivier award for the last two).

Film credits include The Young Victoria (Queen Adelaide), Atonement, Bright Young Things, Sense and Sensibility and Louis Malle’s Milou et Mai.

She has published three books; Other People’s Shoes and Macbeth for the Faber series ‘Actors on Shakespeare’ and Facing It.

Harriet was appointed a CBE in 2000 and DBE in the Honours List 2011.

Programme notes provided free of charge


Fri 4 Oct 2019

Little Missenden Church

Nocturne in F Major op6