In the course of the Schumann Celebrations of 1956, on the occasion of the 100th death of Schumann, the Frankfurt (founded in 1956) and Zwickau (founded in 1949, reconstituted in 1957) Schumann Societies felt obliged to set to work on a new edition of Schumann's Collected Works. However, due to inner-German divisions in the 1960s, they were forced to give up. Although these unfavourable conditions still prevailed, in 1982 the Düsseldorf Schumann Society (founded in 1979) revived the plan and decided to tackle this ambitious project.
After the Union of the Academies of Sciences adopted Schumann's Collected Works into its promotional programme in 1985, the Robert Schumann Research Institute was opened in April 1986. It was clear to all involved that a new historic-critical collected edition, in which all compositions were to be carefully prepared in accordance with the latest standards in musicological editing techniques and presented as a whole, could only be achieved by incorporating and using the extensive sources housed in the Robert Schumann House. For this reason, contact with the then director of the Robert Schumann House 'Dr. Martin Schoppe' and his later successor Dr. Gerd Nauhaus very quickly became more intensive. In spite of the complicated political situation, a close, indeed friendly, relationship developed with the Schumann researchers in Zwickau. It was even possible during GDR times for both to participate at various colloquia and conferences in the FRG; at these, along with content questions such as the Edition's plan and the Edition's guidelines, the possibilities of intensifying the cooperation between Düsseldorf and Zwickau were discussed.
The first volume of the New Collected Works Edition to be edited in Zwickau with the three Violin Sonatas by Schumann; to the left, a proof sheet.
Thus, in December 1986 Martin Schoppe participated in a colloquium on the Schumann Complete Works Edition in Mainz. In February 1988, Gerd Nauhaus was able to attend an informational talk in the newly -established Robert Schumann Research Institute in Düsseldorf at which interest was expressed in a collaboration supported by the GDR. It must be stressed, however, that cooperation between the Robert Schumann House and the Düsseldorf Research Institute was often very difficult, sometimes quite an adventure and occasionally even dangerous in the era prior to the reunification of Germany.
Despite of all the efforts of the researchers and employees in Zwickau, unfettered access to the sources present here was very difficult, even impossible on occasion. Nevertheless, all means of cooperation were utilized. Indeed, the Robert Schumann House, even with the blessing of the GDR Ministry of Culture, became an institutional partner in the New Schumann Complete Works Edition. This is to be seen, for example, in the note regarding joint publishing roles on the title page. This is not an empty gesture. Without the participation of people in Zwickau, the New Complete Edition would have been unthinkable. A shared role in printing the volumes, as was the case with the New Edition of the Works of Johann Sebastian Bach, was not possible in GDR times due to capacity reasons, however.
The importance of the extensive source material in Zwickau was recognized by the directors of the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature and of other important committees. Thanks to the initiative of the Mainz Academy, and above all to the commitment of Dr Hanspeter Bennwitz, the then director of the musicological editions, in February 1992 a further branch of the Robert Schumann Research Institute of Düsseldorf was opened in the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau.
In the service of the Complete Works Edition and in support of the Research Institute in Düsseldorf, the objective of this branch, along with preparing its own volumes, is to reappraise and prepare the source materials housed in the Robert Schumann House for the Collected Works Edition and make them available to free-lance co-editors of the complete works via the Research Institute. Naturally, there are also other duties connected to those mentioned above, for example preparing a joint EDP system and exchanging information between Düsseldorf and Zwickau. Even though various documents from the collections have been entered into databases and various sources have been digitalized, electronic documenting and cataloging of the extensive sources will still take quite some time.
A further and no less extensive task is work on the editing and publication activities of the Robert Schumann House and of the Robert Schumann Research Institute. This all occurs in the best interests of speedy publication of the volumes of the Complete Works Edition as well as expanding and solidifying cooperation between the two central institutes of Schumann research in Zwickau and Düsseldorf.