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Women Composers
The Lost Tradition Found

Romantic Songs, page 2 of 4

Louise Reichardt (1779-1826) (bio forthcoming)

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847) was a major talent, a better pianist than her brother Felix according to him, and the person to whom he took all of his compositions for criticism. Her father and brother discouraged her from having a professional career or publishing, but she was the musical director of one of the most important musical salons in Berlin in the 1830's and participated as a conductor, pianist and composer . In 1846 a small number of her works were published and she was planning more when she became ill and died. She composed songs, cantatas, oratorios and operas.

Josephine Lang (1815-1880) came from Münich where her father was a court musician and her mother an opera singer. Lang was composing songs by age 13, and was only 15 when she wrote the song presented here. After meeting the young Lang in 1831, Mendelssohn wrote, "She has the gift of composing songs and singing them as I have never heard before. It is the most complete musical joy I have ever experienced." Lang responded to his enthusiasm by idolizing him. Robert Schumann wrote favorable reviews of her songs, including this one. Lang became a professional singer at the Münich court in 1836, but her career was cut short by marriage and a subsequent move to Tübingen in 1842. After her husband's death in 1856, Lang supported her family of six children by teaching voice and piano. Clara Schumann helped arrange for the publication of her Lieder. More than 150 were printed, establishing her as one of the most published women composers of the period. More than half of her songs date from the 1830s and 40s, and were influenced stylistically by Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn.

Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-1896), the daughter of a progressive music educator, received the best musical training, was groomed to become a professional musician, and was encouraged to compose. By the time she was 18, she was second only to Franz Liszt among European pianists. She was the first to introduce Chopin's music to Germany, the first to play Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata in Berlin, and the first to introduce many works by Johannes Brahms and her husband Robert Schumann. She managed to continue her piano career while bearing eight children. At 59 she accepted a full-time teaching post at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt where she remained for fourteen years. When she was 20, she wrote, "I once thought that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up the idea. A woman must not desire to be a composer, not one has done it, and, why should I expect to? It would be arrogance, though indeed my father led me to it in earlier days." These attitudes were a reflection of the society in which she lived, which questioned women's ability to produce works of art or intellect. Clara composed little after marriage. She wrote piano works, songs, a piano concerto and three chamber works.

Pauline Viardot-Garcia (1821-1910) (Spain/France) and her sister Maria Malibran were the reigning divas of their day. Daughter of Manuel Garcia, a Rossini expert and famous voice pedagogue, Pauline studied piano with Liszt and composition with Reicha. A very intelligent woman, she was always in the company of artists and intellectuals, and she aided the careers of Gounod, Massenet, Saint-Säens, and Fauré, while Chopin and Liszt apparently admired her music. Pauline's own operatic career began in 1839 and lasted until 1862. From 1861 to 1872 she made most of her appearances on the recital stage, and in her later years taught at the Paris Conservatoire. Her little-known compositions include piano pieces, about 100 songs, and three operettas.ontinue to Ins

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