Romantic Nostalgia and Affirmative Action

Mayer Piano Quartet E flat major-1
Water geometry. © Charles Thibo

I remember the first warm days of the year: I was anticipating a sunny spring, I looked forward to spend a lot of time outside, I even got the garden furniture ready! April passed with plenty of fair weather, nature exploded in a thousand colours and all looked well. And now – this! First week of May – the Germans call it “Wonnemonat” (month of bliss) – low, grey clouds chasing each other, icy wind gusts, showers that drench you from tip to toe. Dreadful. Of course I knew that the sun would be back, but until then, I settled for a little nostalgia with the German composer Emilie Mayer (1812-1883) and her Piano Quartet No. 1 in E-flat major.

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Emilie Takes up the Challenge of Composing

That smell… © Charles Thibo

Andante maestoso is the mood of the first movement of this work, Emilie Mayer’s Piano Trio in D major op. 13. And majestic the opening is, but don’t you trust appearances, it is almost immediately balanced by a delightful melody, a Romantic signature, of course. Emilie Mayer has already been introduced in an earlier post, I will not repeat myself. The trio was composed in 1859 at the latest and by then the composer was living in Berlin. She was part of the generation of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, but she could not have met either of the two. She moved to Berlin in 1847, the year both Mendelssohns died, which explains why she is neither mentioned by R. Larry Todd in his excellent biographies of the two Mendelssohns, nor in the Mendelssohns’ letters.

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Emilie Mayer and the Passion for Life

Fire. © Charles Thibo

Wait, wait, wait – what is this commotion about? You can not just hammer away on these keys! What, agitato you say? But… You, you, the violinist, stop that! This not music, you hear me, this is outrageous! Well, outrage may well have been on the composer’s mind. Here comes a fulgurant woman writing fulgurant music. Here comes Emilie Mayer with her Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 19. You havent heard of her? You will hear her story – or parts of it – now and hopefully discover a piece that will bewitch you. It has been recorded by Aleksandra Maslovaric and Anne-Lise Longuemare.

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