Among the obstacles facing Schumann: An overbearing father who recognized her genius, and then tried to block her marriage to famed composer Robert Schumann. Their union would be troubled in part because Robert Schumann wanted Clara to play the role of dutiful wife instead of flitting about musical circles that included living legends such as Johannes Brahms, Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt.
By the age of 37, Schumann was a widow, according to author Nancy B. Reich, who wrote a biography of the musician entitled "Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman." Her husband suffered from depression, attempted suicide at one point by throwing himself in the Rhine River, and was ultimately committed to an asylum, where he remained until his death.
Despite such hardships, Schumann refused to be defined by a conventional life and used her musical talents to support herself and her family.
"She concentrated on her own career and her many obligations as she endeavored to reconcile the conflicts that inevitably arise when a woman steps out of her conventional place," Reich wrote in her book. "Clara Schumann was always her own person, perceiving herself as an artist who was a woman, and eternally grateful for the art that was to sustain her through a lifetime of tragedy and triumph."