Calling female musicians, composers and conductors to take part in the Meet the Artist interview series

 

Established in 2012 by blogger Frances Wilson (“The Cross-Eyed Pianist”), Meet the Artist is a series of interviews in which musicians, conductors and composers discuss aspects of their creative lives, including inspirations, influences, repertoire, performance, recording, significant teachers and more. The interviews offer revealing insights into the musician’s working life and each one provides advice to young or aspiring musicians.

The interview takes the form of a short questionnaire. Originally hosted entirely on the The Cross-Eyed Pianist site, the series has grown in popularity to such an extent that it now has its own dedicated website.

If you would like to take part in the Meet the Artist series, please download an interview questionnaire and return it to Frances Wilson (contact details on questionnaire).

Meet the Artist questionnaire – musician/performer

Meet the Artist questionnaire – Composer

Meet the Artist questionnaire – Conductor

guest post by Elizabeth de Brito

Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, the three composers every truly cultured music student knows (as well as their scales and arpeggios of course). Together they are known as the First Viennese School.

Now classical music history books and the enormous performance bias (one-third of all classical performances are either of Mozart or Beethoven) make it seem that these were the only three composers who wrote anything worthwhile in the Classical era.

This is so far from the case. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven were part of a huge music scene in Vienna. Actually these three composers spent most of their lives hanging out with various highly regarded musicians and respected composers, most of whom were women.

So, in an expansion of the First Viennese School, I give you the ‘Vienna 10’.

1. Haydn (31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809) Austrian

In the 1740s Haydn was a struggling musician living in a leaky attic room in Vienna, the clichéd image of a composer found in romantic novels everywhere. Several floors below lived the Martines family and Haydn gave the daughter Marianna Martines piano lessons.

2. Marianna Martines/Marianna von Martinez (May 4, 1744 – December 13, 1812) Viennese

Marianna grew up to become a pianist and composer. Being of a certain class she was never allowed to work professionally as a musician but she was very well respected. Marianna was known for her regular musical salons, well attended by all the hobnobs and hotshots on the Vienna scene, including Mozart and Salieri. Marianna was good friends with them both and performed with them on several occasions. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Accademia Filharmonia in 1773, the prestigious academy that Mozart was admitted to three years earlier. Her works number nearly 200 and include the first known symphony to be written by a woman, the Dixit Dominus she wrote for her entrance to the Accademia, several cantatas and keyboard sonatas along with three harpsichord concertos.

In the 1780s Haydn was back in Vienna, hanging out with his old pupil Marianna and in 1784 he met:

3. Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791). Austrian

Mozart was born in Salzburg and moved to Vienna in 1781. He met Haydn in 1784 and he was good friends with Marianna Martines. Mozart and Haydn were frequent guests at Marianna’s musical salons, Mozart and Marianna frequently played duets together, and it is thought that Mozart wrote his Piano Concerto in D for Marianna.

Mozart did also go on to teach music. One of his pupils was:

4. Josepha Barbara Auernhammar (25 September 1758 – 30 January 1820) – Viennese pianist and composer

Mozart taught her from 1781. Josepha and Mozart played together often, both in public and at private concerts. Mozart dedicated Violin Sonatas to her and she performed several of his piano sonatas. Sadly only one of her compositions has been recorded, this delightful 6 Variations on a Hungarian theme.

Josepha Barbara Auernhammar also went on to perform works by fellow Mozart pupil:

5. Anton Eberl (13 June 1765 – 11 March 1807). Eberl was born in Vienna and was taught by Mozart from around 1781. Many of his works were misattributed to Mozart. He wrote many piano concertos, including dedicating his Piano Concerto to Josepha Auernhammer. Josepha Auernhammer performed his Piano Concerto in E Flat.

A good friend and benefactor of Eberl was:

6. Anton Salieri (18 August 1750 – 7 May 1825), Italian by birth, and supposedly Mozart’s great rival, Salieri lived and worked in Vienna from the 1770s onwards as a court director at the Austrian court. Salieri was a well known composer of opera and a conductor, known to conduct Haydn’s The Creation with the composer in attendance. He was a frequent guest at Marianna Martines’ parties and he was also a sought after teacher. He wrote this organ concerto as a commission from one of his pupils. Maria Theresia von Paradis.

7. Maria Theresa von Paradis (May 15, 1759 – February 1, 1824) Viennese. Blind since chilodhood, Maria Theresa von Paradis became an extraordinary pianist and composer. She wrote a ton of music including operas, piano concertos and sonatas. Unfortunately most of it has been lost except her Sicilienne, a popular piece for cello.

Even this one short but gorgeous work is only spuriously connected with her. As well as her own compositions Maria Theresia also commissioned music by Haydn and commissioned Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.18 in Bb Major. Her father Joseph was court councillor to Empress Maria Theresa. Empress Marie Theresa oversaw much of the musical activity in Vienna and was a great patron of the arts. Marianna Martines performed for her while still a child. It’s very likely the two pianists knew each other, especially given Marianna’s role as hostess of popular parties.

Now we come to:

8. Beethoven (baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) German, moved to Vienna in 1792. Taught and mentored by Haydn, Beethoven also received some assistance from Salieri. Among the thousands of pieces he wrote in Vienna was his Appassionata Sonata.

The first person to perform the Appassionata sonata from autograph was:

9. Marie Bigot (3 March 1786– 16 September 1820) French teacher, composer and pianist. She moved in Vienna in 1804. Beethoven was so impressed with her performance he gave her his copy of the Apassionata. Marie Bigot was also friends with Salieri and Haydn. Again hardly any of her music has been recorded except this Suite D’Etudes which is wonderfully strident and full of power chords.

Marie Bigot returned to Paris in 1808 and introduced Beethoven’s music to Parisian society. She also went on to teach the Mendelssohn siblings.

The last member of the ‘Viennese 10’ was:

10. Marianne Auenbrugger/Marianne D’Auenbrugg (19 July 1759– 25 August 1782). Viennese.

A student of Haydn and Salieri, she was a highly regarded composer and sought after pianist and Haydn dedicated six sonatas to her including this one.

Only one recording of her work exists – her phenomenal Sonata in E Flat major, published by Salieri after her death.

There you have it, the Vienna 10. 10 awesome composers including 5 women who were completely wiped from the history books, until now.

Let’s rewrite the story.


Elizabeth de Brito is a gender equality champion, classical music radio producer, researcher, writer and obsessive Florence Price fan. She is the Producer of The Daffodil Perspective, a radio show which champions gender equality in classical music.

 

 

 

 

 

tasmin-little

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

It was quite by chance – I feel ill with chicken pox and was bored so I began to teach myself the recorder. I really loved playing an instrument and when I was better, I started the piano and the violin

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Yehudi Menuhin was a huge influence of course…..but I think that all the teachers at school had their own influence and we learned from all of them. Since leaving school and performing professionally, many conductors have influenced me, especially Richard Hickox and Sir Andrew Davis

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Performing the Ligeti violin concerto – it’s hugely difficult and really challenges the player in every way!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am very proud of my Elgar concerto with Andrew Davis and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. It won a Classic BRIT Award and I felt very happy as I waited a long time to record it, so I felt I gave my very best.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

I’d like to think that I am able to bring some insight into every composer that I choose to perform. If I don’t feel an empathy with a composer or piece, I prefer not to play it! I’d rather leave it to people who like it, and play the things that I like most. That said, I have a huge repertoire so I haven’t exactly limited myself!

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

There are various factors to consider – who I’m playing with and the repertoire that they like. Orchestras often have their own ideas regarding repertoire and then I like to learn new pieces every year so I am always programming new things.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I adored playing in Carnegie Hall – the floorboards are alive with history, it’s so inspiring!  I was playing with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra so I was in amazing company!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

It’s hard to choose because I have had so many fantastic experiences but probably my concert in the Royal Albert Hall at the Last Night of the Proms – the atmosphere was so amazing and so friendly! I also enjoyed playing for 40,000 people in Hyde Park – very exciting indeed to see all those faces!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

My definition of success is simply to be playing to the very best of my ability.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

The most important thing is to be yourself. Anything less than that will come across as un-natural and superficial so it’s important to be authentic

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I’d like to be enjoying a career in broadcasting, as well as some motivational speaking, plus finding some time for hobbies and seeing plenty of my friends and family!

Tasmin Little performs at Music at Paxton with pianist Piers Lane on 23 July in a programme including music by Schubert, Brahms, Ireland, Vaughan Williams and Franck.

Further information


Tasmin Little has firmly established herself as one of today’s leading international violinists. She has performed on every continent in some of the most prestigious venues of the world, including Carnegie Hall, Musikverein, Concertgebouw, Philharmonie Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus, South Bank Centre, Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall, Lincoln Center and Suntory Hall.

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DONNE Women in Music | Showcase Concert,  St Gabriel’s Church, London, 7th March

Guest review by Karine Hetherington

On the eve of International Women’s Day, I attended a concert at St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, showcasing women’s music.

Soprano, Gabriella Di Laccio, the powerhouse behind the musical initiative Donne: Women in Music, welcomed us and introduced us to her musicians for the evening: James Akers guitarist, soprano, Susie Georgiadis and pianist Clelia Iruzun. I was pleasantly surprised to see a male musician in the line-up.

Akers produced a Romantic guitar, which is smaller than the classical guitar. I realise that night that my knowledge of the classical guitar was limited to Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream and John Williams. My mother played their records over and over during our childhood in the early 1970s.

James Akers, I learnt, had a few misgivings about the Father of the Guitar, André Segovia. Whilst acknowledging Segovia’s brilliance, he believed that guitar masters had limited the guitar repertoire we have been exposed to. Women composers especially had suffered as a result of Segovia’s promotion of Spanish male composers. This evening was the occasion to redress the balance.

He played works by Emilia Giuliani (1813-1850) who shared the stage with Franz Liszt, and Athénaïs Paulian (1801- c.1875) who was a child prodigy, was well known in British society and had a biography written about her. Prelude 2 by Giuliani was particularly appealing; however Akers’ delicate, dexterous play could have benefited from some amplification in the church. I listened to extracts from his Le Donne et la Chitarra CD later and was struck by the colour and expression he brought to each work. Highly recommended.

Next, Gabriella Di Laccio interpreted songs by Clara K.Rogers (1844-1931) and Avril Coleridge-Taylor (1903-1998). Can Sorrow Find Me by Coleridge-Taylor is a beautiful, dramatic and haunting work. Di Laccio had the power in the higher register but her voice felt a little tight in the lower notes and pianissimos. I was delighted however to hear her sing the same work again on BBC 3’s In tune the following day for International Women’s Day. This time Di Laccio broadcast it to the nation perfectly!

Meanwhile soprano, Susie Georgiadis, performed a variety of Italian and Brazilian songs, all very different in tone and all beautifully sung. Georgiadis’s voice is warm and controlled and rich with emotion.

Most memorable was Cardellina, a charming song about a little bird and Sul Fiume (By The River), an intensely romantic composition. The composer, Giulia Recli (1890-1970), together with many other female composers, appears on Susie Georgiadis’s CD Homage, just out.

The evening ended fittingly with a Brazilian protest song entitled Marielle presente (2018). Composed by Catarina Domenici, in memory of the Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco, who was assassinated last year, it was a rousing song in honour of those women who had died recently in Brazil for their political activities.

All in all a tantalising introduction to the world of female composition.

Hats off to Gabriella Di Laccio for her remarkably enlightening project, which can only grow and grow.


Both of the CD’s below are available from the Donne Musica online shop.

Le Donne e la Chitarra with James Akers.

Homage: Women Composers from Italy and Brazil – Susie Georgiadis, Soprano & Angiolina Sensale, Piano

Gabriella Di Laccio & Clelia Iruzun
Susie Georgiadis
James Akers

Karine Hetherington is a teacher and writer of novels, who also blogs on art and music. Her two published novels, The Poet and the Hypotenuse, and Fort Girard, are set in France in the 1930s and 1940s. Karine promotes singers and musicians performing in the fast-growing Kensington and Olympia Music and Arts Festival. She is also a reviewer for ArtMuseLondon.com

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

I was born into a family of musicians: my mother is a pianist and she was my first teacher. She inspired me to take up the piano and supported me with my further studies.

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Of course my teachers: my mother Liubov Chistiakova, Elena Khoven, Anatoly Ryabov, Mikhail Voskresensky, Boris Petrushansky. I was also very lucky to have wonderful teachers of chamber music and accompaniment: Guzal Karieva, Sergey Voronov, Galina Brykina. And my musical life, thoughts and way of playing changed a lot when I moved to Italy.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Life and music are inseparable: that’s the greatest challenge of my career.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I am never happy with my performance! But I’m really proud of my second CD of French Music which was recorded in Germany thanks to the Shigeru Kawai team. Things are good when you work with professionals.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

There are some pieces that are always successful: Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, Petroushka Suite by Stravinsky, Liszt’s Paraphrase “Don Juan”, La Valse by Ravel, several miniatures by Chopin.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

There is always something or someone who inspires me to make a choice. I like it when a concert program makes sense for me and for the public.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

It’s the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory. I have the best memories from there and it’s always a dream to go back there.

Who are your favourite musicians?

A lot of names and not only from Classical, but Jazz, Rock and Popular music as well. I love musicians, people with a great culture, education and respect for the listeners.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

It’s the first time I played with an orchestra at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory. I played the 1st Chopin concerto there when I was 12.

I remember when there was an orchestral tutti I felt how the floor was vibrating under my feet and it was so thrilling and so exciting. It was the youth symphony orchestra of Moscow with lots of kids, but they were already professional musicians, like me, so for me it seemed to be very powerful and energising.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Practise with passion, never give up and never regret.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Peace and health of my family, well organised life, travels and concerts.

What is your present state of mind?

Fantastic! I became a mother one year ago and it’s an absolutely wonderful feeling.

Galina Chistiakova performs in Manchester Camerata UpClose: The Next Generation at Stoller Hall, Manchester on 4th October 2018. More information

Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D major K. 448

Schumann Andante and Variations in B flat major WoO 10

Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals

Piano Galla Chistiakova

Piano André Gallo

Manchester Camerata Principal Musicians


Finding clothing to perform in which is stylish, flattering, and, above all, comfortable and practical can be tricky and high street stores tend not to cater that well for performers. We need clothes which allow freedom of movement, which do not distract us when we play (there is nothing worse than a tickly label or zip), which look good when we stand to take a bow and when we are seated at the piano. The type of venue and time of day also dictate what to wear: one does not need a full-length evening gown for a lunchtime concert, for example.

It’s much easier for the men. Now that the very formal attire of white tie and tails has largely disappeared, men can choose to wear a dark suit or dark shirt and trousers. Some favour a dark tee-shirt under a dark jacket, others tend towards the Nehru jacket. .

Women, on the other hand, are still expected to turn out in full-length gowns which hark back to the age of Dame Moura Lympany. There are of course exceptions: the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang has made a name for herself almost as much through her daring dresses and vertiginous stiletto heels (how on earth does she pedal in them?) as through her playing. She has been criticised for her risky hemlines, but as she herself says “I can wear long skirts when I’m 40”; she is a young woman who clearly loves fashion and has an enviably svelte figure.

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Yuja Wang (photo: The Telegraph)

Sadly, I do not have the body and legs of Yuja wang, so I prefer concert clothes which cover my legs, draw attention away from the “lumpy, bumpy” parts of my middle-aged body, and which make me feel graceful and elegant and, importantly, comfortable when I perform. Tight bodices or restrictive sleeves are a no no, as are strapless dresses (and frankly I don’t have the gym-honed arms for such attire). The British women’s fashion chain PhaseEight creates elegant and affordable maxi dresses in a fluid silky jersey fabric which are flattering and comfortable to wear. They also offer more formal full-length gowns, embellished with sequins and beads, for special occasions. I have also worn long skirts by Ghost: their signature “bias cut” dresses and skirts suit most sizes and shapes, and their crepe fabric packs well for travelling – another consideration if you’re a musician who lives out of a suitcase.

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‘Kathleen’ dress
Alert to the needs of musicians, a new clothing company called Black Dress Code has launched a collection especially for musicians. Those who play in orchestras or sing in choirs are well aware that a fairly plain black outfit is the dress code for such organisations and Black Dress Code has created stylish and practical clothes with this in mind. In addition to the very elegant full-length black ‘Kathleen’ dress, there are midi dresses, a jumpsuit and palazzo pants (especially useful for cellists and bass players), simple black tops with 3/4 sleeves and silky sashes to enhance skirts and trousers. The designers have clearly thought about what musicians do with their bodies when playing and how clothing “interacts” with gestures and movements. There is a small range of skirts for girls, and a men’s range is in preparation. My only criticism is that the largest size is a UK 16 (because, sadly, some of us do not have the slim proportions of Yuja Wang or Khatia Buniatishvilli). If you’re looking for something to wear for an audition or ensemble work, I would certainly recommend taking a look at Black Dress Code’s collection. When I posted a link to BDC’s site on Facebook, many of my female colleagues and friends reacted very positively and enthusiastically to the collection.

View the Black Dress Collection here