The complex origin of the Fantasie in C major, Op 17, is linked with two of Schumann’s deepest loves: for Clara Wieck, when he believed he would lose her, and of Beethoven, whom he admired unreservedly and who had died when Schumann was sixteen. The facts remain hazy.
In June 1836, Schumann composed a lament for Clara which he titled ‘Ruins’. But that autumn, he decided to incorporate that movement into a ‘Grand Sonata’ for Beethoven in three movements: ‘Ruins’, ‘Trophies’ and ‘Palms’. He hoped—rather unrealistically—that the proceeds of sales of the work could be donated towards the construction of a planned Beethoven monument, for which funds were being collected by Franz Liszt.