Adapted from a play by Bernard Schubert and Mario Silva, concert pianist Clara marries composer Robert Schumann, and they share their family home with Johannes Brahms.
On May 10, 1839 Clara Wieck (Katharine Hepburn) gives a concert in Dresden playing music by Franz Liszt (Henry Daniell) as her father (Leo G. Carroll) coaches her. As an encore she plays a song by Robert Schumann (Paul Henreid). Her father reprimands her and tells Schumann that he opposes their marriage. In court Liszt tells the judge that Schumann has ability, and Clara and Robert are married. She gives him her diary, and he has written the song "Devotion" for her.
Ten years later Johannes Brahms (Robert Walker) arrives and finds eight children. He plays a rhapsody he wrote and asks to study with Schumann, who invites him to live there. Schumann asks their servant Bertha (Elsa Janssen) to relieve Clara of extra work, and Bertha quits. At a party they tell fortunes. Clara gets a heart, Brahms a crown, and Schumann a coffin. Brahms plays, and Schumann hears noise. Bertha comes back for her wages, and Brahms flatters her. She starts working and is welcomed back.
Schumann has headaches and is working on an opera. Clara says she is going to give a concert. She hurries the concert in order to feed the baby. Haslinger asks Clara to go on a tour, but she declines. Uncle Brahms takes care of sick Julie (Gigi Perreau), and he plays a lullaby. Clara asks Dr. Hoffman to see Schumann, who is working on "The Cursed Forest." The doctor suggests he rest. Clara says that Schumann's sister committed suicide, and she thinks he has melancholia. Clara learns that Schumann's opera was rejected, and she cries.
Brahms takes Schumann's music to Liszt, who asks Princess Hohenfels (Tala Birell) to ensnare the conductor Reinecke (Konstantin Shayne). Liszt breaks a string and moves to another piano. Then he plays his arrangement of Schumann's "Devotion." Clara plays the simpler version and speaks of love unadorned. Bertha tells Clara that Brahms is packing. Clara forbids him to leave, but Brahms confesses that he loves her. Crying Clara tells Schumann, who knows that Brahms loves her.
Schumann conducts his opera Faust and hears noise. The orchestra stops playing, and Clara takes him home. At an institution Clara learns that Schumann tried to take his own life. She visits him, and he plays his "new" piece, which is the song of love she first performed.
Five years later Brahms calls on mourning Clara and invites her to his first symphony. He says that Schumann never stopped creating. Clara refuses to go; but Brahms sees her in the balcony and joins her. They leave and go dancing. Brahms asks her to marry him, but Clara says she still loves Schumann. She goes on tour playing his music. Her farewell performance is in 1890, and she plays the song of love again for the same prince who heard it a half century before.
This romantic biography of three fine musicians presents
great music and the poignant story of their human trials in creating