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Table of Contents
Who Was Louise?.................................................................................................3 Growing up in 19th Century Paris--Boring or Thrilling?...................................4 An Unusual Family................................................................................................6 Music from the Age of Six..................................................................................10 A Composer from Age Fifteen............................................................................11 Aristide: the Love of Her Life.............................................................................12 Early Career: Distinguished, Not Flashy...........................................................14 The First Milestone: The Thirty Etudes.............................................................15 Early Public Performances.................................................................................15 Victorine...............................................................................................................17 Among the Greats and Among the Aristocrats.............................................18 A Woman and a Full Professor...........................................................................20 The Death of Victorine.........................................................................................24 A New Direction: Scholar of Early Music...........................................................24 Ornaments............................................................................................................24 Keyboards-All Sizes and Sounds.......................................................................25 The Last Years......................................................................................................28 Why is Louise so Little Known Today?..............................................................29 TIMELINE of Louises Life and French Government.........................................31 Two Little Orphans: a Musical Mystery?............................................................33 Acknowledgments................................................................................................37 Works Cited...........................................................................................................39 Image Credits........................................................................................................41 About the Author.................................................................................................. 44

Who Was Louise?

This is the story of a fascinating person whom most people have never heard of. She was a pioneer and an individualist. She lived during the 19th century. At this time when women went outside the home only to shop, visit friends, and and pick flowers, she was a celebrated composer, a renowned music teacher, and a ground-breaking scholar of early music. Her name was Louise Dumont Farrenc. The image you see here is the only portrait of her that has survived. The original is in the National Library of France.

Growing up in 19th Century Paris-Boring or Thrilling?

Paris of the 1800s was big, dirty, dangerous, and exciting---for boys. Boys learned riding and fencing and fighting as well as writing, reading, and languages. They were trained in business, politics, military skills, practical crafts, or the arts. In short, boys were expected to learn to make their way in the world. Whether as builders, soldiers, priests, lawyers, merchants, dukes, or doctors, men had a sphere of activity and influence in the world. Boys and men suffered, worried, and struggled. They got wounded in battles, cheated in business deals, and insulted at court. But they also had opportunities to learn, explore the world, and develop their talents. Boys were not often bored. The illustration on the right shows a French soldier, an "artilleryman" in full battle dress from 1804. Girls, on the other hand, were expected to stay close to home all their lives. Unless they were extremely poor, girls were not allowed to go outside the house without a companion or a servant in attendance. They were encouraged to learn a little reading, a little writing, and perhaps a little Italian or German--but only a little. Girls were expected to play the piano or the harp well enough to provide some light entertainment at a family gathering. They could learn sewing and drawing, and perhaps some painting. In short, girls were taught to learn just enough so that they could be charming to potential suitors for their hand in marriage.

This picture shows a young woman flirting with a young man as couples dance shows the proper use of a piano for a young woman growing up at this time. After marriage, women were expected to relegate even these small artistic or musical skills to family duties, as is shown in the illustration below. This proper young married woman is turning away from her music to attend to her family.

An Unusual Family
Louise grew up in an unusual family. It was probably one of the best families in Paris for a girl who did not like to be bored. Louises father, grand father, and great grandfathers were successful sculptors whose work can still be seen in Paris and its vicinity. The family lived not in a typical house or apartment, but in an artists colony supported by the government. Each artist and his family lived in individual apartments, all clustered in one building and sharing some assembly halls, studios, and a garden where they could socialize or collaborate on artistic projects. There were about thirty families of painters, sculptors, and artisans such as clock-makers, tapestry-makers, and engravers who produced objets dart for the court and for wealthy private customers. Nearly all the members of the colony played musical instruments. In this milieu, music and the arts were not a tasteful diversion but the very essence of life. In a book written about the Dumont family in 1890 there is a charming description of life in the artists colony. During the day, the children played in the garden. On summer nights families gathered to sing and dance. In the winter, the families took turns hosting each other in their own apartments for informal dance parties. Louises father would with the best will in the world take down his violin and play a popular quadrille. The

girls would wear white dresses with thin green ribbons and small crowns of flowers in the hair at these dances. Only a few candles would provide light, and refreshments were modest--cups of fruit syrup being favored. The illustration on the previous page is a French painting from the 18th century that shows people making music in a garden. Perhaps the garden parties at Louise's artist colony were something like the painting shown above. Independent Minds Another way in which Louises family was unusual was in the independence of her parents thinking. The little we know about them suggests that they were independent-minded people. They lived together unmarried for several years, during which time both Louise and her brother Auguste were born (Louise on May 31, 1804, Auguste in 1801). It wasnt until 1807 that Louises parents married. In the 19th century, it was uncommon for people to live together as a family before getting married. Louises parents were unusual in another way as well--they provided all three of their children (Louises sister Constance was born 1808) with a complete and serious education. At this time in history, girls were not expected to need a good education--in fact, it was thought that girls who had too much education would not make good wives and mothers. It seems likely that Louise's parents put a high value on the kind of attentive, serious study shown in this nineteenth century photograph.

A Glimpse of a Fallen Ruler Yet another interesting part of Louise's childhood involved politics. The commune was located in a central part of Paris and provided a "ringside seat" for some important political events. For example, a book about Louise's brother, Augustin, describes how he saw the Emperor Napoleon in person on a historic occasion. Augustins biographer, Guy Vattier, describes how Augustin heard a sudden commotion in the streets outside their home in the artists colony. Looking out, Augustin saw a carriage surrounded by soldiers drawing up in front of the Cluny Church nearby (it is now the Cluny Museum). Napoleon Bonaparte stepped out of the carriage and entered Cluny to take a last look at the painting Leonides at Thermopyles by the painter Ingres (show below). This painting shows a powerful king at a moment of defeat--a reflection in art of Napoleons own life at that moment. After a few minutes, the deposed ruler

emerged from the church looking pensive, re-entered the carriage, and was carried away to his final exile on the island of St. Helena. This anecdote may in fact be only one of many sensational stories or myths about the life of Napoleon, but it illustrates how interested the artists' colony was in the momentous events of the time.


Music from the Age of Six

We know from reading Louises letters and from her work as a musicologist that she must have been well taught in writing, grammar, French, English, and Italian. It is likely, too, that she was taught from an early age to challenge herself intellectually, and to work hard to learn complex subjects. How else would she have been able to compose the symphonies, chamber music, and intricate piano pieces that were so well reviewed and respected by serious critics? Louise showed an early gift for drawing, but it was music that attracted her most. Amid all those artists in her family and in the artists colony it must have taken a strong sense of her own individuality to follow her own path of studying music rather than the fine arts. At the early age of 6, Louise began to take piano lessons. Her first teacher was Anne-ElisabethCecile Soria, a musician whom Louises father had met in Rome. Mme. Soria had become a close friend of the family and was Louises godmother as well as teacher. She had been a student of the well-known composer Muzio Clementi, and must have been highly skilled. This painting by James McNeil Whistler may give us a glimpse of how attentively the young Louise must have worked with her piano teacher.


A Composer from Age Fifteen

At age fifteen, Louise began to take private lessons in musical composition. Her teacher was Anton Reicha, highly respected figure in the musical life of Paris. He held a prestigious position at the Paris Conservatory. His books on musical composition and melody were standard textbooks at the Conservatory, and such was his skill and reputation as a teacher that most of his students went on to become professors at the Paris Conservatory. Others of his students went on to become composers of the first rank, including Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Charles Gounod, and Cesar Frank. For all these reasons, it was an honor to be accepted as a private student by Anton Reicha. It must have taken extraordinary determination and self-confidence for Louise to apply for acceptance as Reichas pupil at such a young age. Because only male students were allowed to study in the composition classes, Louise took her lessons from Reicha in a private studio.


Aristide: The Love of Her Life

It was at a musical soiree at the Sorbonne commune that Louise met the young man who would become the love her life. Aristide Farrenc had come to Paris from Marseille, determined, like Louise, to create a life for himself in music. He held a respected position as professor of flute at the Paris Conservatory as well as a job as second flautist at the Italian Theater. By the time he met Louise he had also begun his own music publishing company. Louise and Arisitide performed together at at least one of the Sorbonne concerts, a concerto for flute and piano. They were married on Sept. 29, 1821. Louise was seventeen years old and Aristide was twenty-seven. Louise and Aristide seem to have had a very happy marriage. They began their marriage with a long honeymoon traveling to various European cities, as was the custom among upper middle class and wealthy people. They may have lived in or near Aristides publishing house, Editions Farrenc, at No. 22 Boulevard Poissonnieres when they returned from their honeymoon. Today there is a hair salon at the place where Aristide opened his first publishing house, but you can get a sense of it being a good location on a wide, pleasant street.


Although they had their own home now, we know from a letter written by Louises brother Augustin in 1824 that Louise and Aristide must have spent some musical evenings back at her old home at the Sorbonne artists colony. Augustin is writing home from Rome, where he is studying art. He mentions missing his family, chatting with mother and father, and regrets that he no longer hears The piano of Louise or the flute of Aristide. This illustration is a 19th century German painting that might well show the kind of scene that Augustin so missed. The young man at the table could be Aristide, playing his flute; the woman at the piano could be Louise; the older man at the window could be Papa Dumont playing his violin "with the best will in the world." Notice, too, that the room is comfortable but modest, with pictures on the wall, sculptures, and a large desk suggesting the importance of reading and writing. This is just the kind of apartment that Louise must have grown up in at the artists' colony.While you examine the picture, you can listen to the Andante movement of Louises Trio in E Minor Opus 45, which opens with a beautiful, romantic tune played on the flute:


Early Career: Distinguished, Not Flashy

Louise and Aristide had one child, named Victorine. She was born in 1826. For the next six years Louise would devote herself to motherhood. In 1833 Louise returned to composing, focussing mostly on writing pieces for piano. Aristide played an important part in helping Louise to become established as a composer by publishing these early works for piano. Many were rondos or variations on well-known opera arias. Arias (solo songs) from operas were a little like popular hit tunes of today. The opera was the most popular form of musical entertainment for both middle and upper class people. Young women would learn to sing the most popular arias and pianists would play piano versions of the popular arias for home entertainment. This illustration is from a 19th century collection of "fashion plates," that is, pictures that were published to advertise new fashions. Posing the models as musicians in this picture shows how music could be a "fashion statement" in itself in 19th century Paris.Composers often would add flashy touches to a melody to impress listeners, giving little thought to creating something meaningful and original to hear. Louises compositions, however, were different. She added her own musical ideas to each composition and wrote passages that were interesting to hear, not just flashy or technically impressive.


The First Milestone: The Thirty Etudes

Louises most ambitious piano composition from this early period was her Thirty Etudes in All the Major and Minor Keys (Opus 26) 1838. Etudes, or studies are pieces written for a solo instrument that help the learner master a particular musical skill. Most etudes are used solely for practice and learning, but some are beautiful enough that they can be performed in concerts. Louises Thirty Etudes provided the student with a systematic way of practicing each of the keys, but they also did something else that was unusual at the time. Louise composed the etudes in different historical styles, beginning with pieces written in the style of Bach and Handel and progressing through to the musical styles of her own era. In this way, the young learner could become familiar with the history of keyboard composition as well as practicing all the different keys. The Thirty Etudes were well reviewed by no less a person than the composer William Schumann, who recognized them as interesting and well-composed pieces; worthy to be played in a concert as well as to be used for practicing a skill. The Thirty Etudes are still used today for instruction in piano technique. As of this writing there are no free online recordings from the Thirty Etudes, but you may be able to find one by searching the Youtube web site--there are new recordings posted every day.


Early Public Performances

Louise composed her first pieces for orchestra in 1834. Both of these compositions were performed by the newly-formed Society of Concerts. By now Louise was becoming better known as a composer and more self-confident, as we can see from the fact that in 1838 she organized a concert program entirely of her own compositions, performed by her at the Pleyel salon. (Pleyel was a well-known piano maker. Like prestigious piano makers today, the company maintained a recital hall for performances on its instruments.) This concert was given a review in The Revue et Gazette Musicale of June 1838. Here, the reviewer Antoine Elwart wrote: Her style is strong; but this vigorous talent is tempered by a pure taste, fruit of devoted studies of the works of the masters... This illustration shows a concert performed in the Pleyel concert salon in 1896. Louise's performances there would have looked quite similar, except that the pianist (Louise) would of course have been a woman, and perhaps there would have been other women who were also performing on musical instruments.


At around this time, Louises daughter Victorine was becoming an accomplished pianist. Throughout the 1840s she performed frequently at her mothers musical soirees. The musical soiree (evening) was more than a social event at this time. It was a part of the musical life of Paris. Composers and music lovers alike organized these events in their homes, printed programs, and invited the guests. Critics often reviewed these performances, and a number of these reviews praise Victorines solo performances as well as pieces she performed with her mother. Little is known of Victorine, as she died young. It seems that she did much to help promote her mothers career by performing in the concerts, while Louise also did much to encourage Victorine as a musician by featuring her in these performances. Although the illustration shown here is a painting from 1960, it shows how Victorine might have looked, performing one of her mother's compositions at an elegant musical salon.


Among the Greats and Among the Aristocrats

Louise continued to compose, garnering praise and respect for her pieces for string quartet. A program for a concert performed by the Society of Concerts in 1840 lists pieces by Louise Farrenc alongside pieces by Mozart and Beethoven. Mozart and Beethoven were (and still are) among the most famous composers of the nineteenth century. The inclusion of her music on the same programs with these composers suggests that she was considered, at that time, to be among the greats. The Duke Louises growing prestige is also evident in her appointment in 1841 as music teacher at the home of one of the foremost aristocrats of the day, the Duke FerdinandPhilippe dOrleans. The Duke FerdinandPhilippe dOrleans was a royal prince, and as the eldest son of the future kind LouisPhilippe of France, The Duke was a prominent and generous patron of the arts, spending 100,000 - 150,000 francs a year on art and music. He lived with his wife and two sons in the Palais des Tuileries, an enormous palace in the Tuileries Gardens that was destroyed in 1871. The image here shows the Duke in military dress.


The Duchess At the time of Louises appointment, the Duke and his wife had two sons, aged one and three. It is hard to imagine Louise teaching a baby and a toddler to play the piano. It is likely that she gave lessons to the the Dukes wife, the Duchess Helena Elizabeth of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who would have had some musical training as part of her aristocratic upbringing. Louises second quintet was dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Orleans and was performed at a musical soiree at the home of the Duke and the Duchess in February 1842. Louise was now moving in the highest circles of society, yet her musical compositions continued to be serious, ambitious, original pieces without showy or merely fashionable effects. The painting of the Duchess shown here suggests the wealth and luxury of this milieu.


A Woman and a Full Professor

November 15, 1842 was an important day in Louises life. On this day she was named professor of piano at the Paris Conservatory. Conservatory positions were among the most highly respected jobs that a musician could hold in France at this time. Although the pay was not lavish, the prestige was considerable, and the contacts were valuable. As a Conservatory professor, Louise would rub shoulders with the best musicians in France and she would work with students coming from throughout Europe to study at the premier musical institution.

This photograph e shows the Paris Conservatory, which looks much as it did in Louise's time, although it is used now as a drama school.


Louise was not the first female professor at the Conservatory. However, it had been 44 years since a woman had held a full professorship at the Conservatory.(Mme de Mongeroult (1764-1836) had taught there from 1795 to 1798. She was a virtuoso pianist and composed numerous sonatas for solo piano, such as this one: At the time of Louises nomination, a few other women also worked professionally at the Conservatory, but at the less prestigious positions of adjunct (part time) teachers or rehearsal pianists. How did Louise attain this important position? The Director of the Conservatory, the composer Luigi Cherubini, submitted three names to the Minister of the Interior, who had the authority to make the final decision. Cherubini had noticed that more and more young girls were taking piano lessons in Paris and perhaps taking business away from Conservatory teachers. Therefore, he argued for creating a special preparatory piano class at the Conservatory for girls. (At this time young men and women attended separate classes--it was unthinkable to simply include women in the classes already established for male students.) The Revue and Gazette Musicale of Paris from March 1843 had this to say about Louise Farrencs appointment to the professorship: No one is more worthy of this important post...this decision has received unanimous approbation and praise... (p. 148 of Legras) The photograph here shows a typical side street of the neighborhood, with a view of a church. Louise almost certainly walked down this street many times during her years at the Conservatory.


Equal Pay for Equal Zeal and Devotion!

In spite of being well qualified, Louise was paid far less than her male colleagues. Six years after beginning work at the Conservatory she wrote an eloquent letter to the Director of the Conservatory requesting equal pay (Nov. 11, 1850). ...I hope, Monsieur le Directeur, that you will adjust my salary to equality with the other professors, because, setting aside my own self interest, if I do not receive equal pecuniary encouragement, people might think that I have not devoted all the zeal and devotion necessary to complete my assigned tasks... That Louise did devote herself to teaching with all zeal and devotion is evident in the number of her students who became accomplished enough to win prizes and earn acclaim as performers. Her favorite student might have been her own daughter, who enrolled in her piano class in 1843, but judging from the number of her students who distinguished themselves musically, she was devoted to all the young women who studied with her. The Conservatory did acquiesce to Louises demand for equal pay after receiving her letter. She was one of the few women in Paris during the 19th century who received equal pay for equal work. The Nonet Louises own request for equal pay was not the only reason the Conservatory raised her salary. Her reputation as a composer had been steadily growing. For example, her Nonet (Op.38) for violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon was premiered a few months before she wrote the letter (on March 19, 1850). The Nonet highlighted each instrument in turn, emphasizing the best qualities of each one, and was praised by both critics and audiences. You can hear it here: Also at around that time, Louise's Third Symphony was performed in Geneva, Switzerland, increasing her reputation beyond France. These two musical successes must have impressed the administration of the Paris Conservatory as much as her letter.


Louise would keep her position at the Conservatory for thirty years, retiring only two years before her death.

The Death of Victorine

Louise continued to compose and perform throughout most of her teaching career. In 1849 a shadow fell across this happy life when her beloved daughter became ill. We do not know what Victorines illness was, only that it was considered incurable. It is likely that it was tuberculosis, as this was a common illness at the time, often lasting, like Victorines, for many years before death. Before her illness Victorine had begun to compose and had established a reputation in Paris as an accomplished pianist, frequently requested for appearances at musical soirees. Louises letters speak of Victorine having to limit her activities. Most likely she spent much of her time at home resting in the care of her mother and nurses. In January of 1859 Victorine died. She was thirty-three years old.


A New Direction: Scholar of Early Music

After her daughters death, Louise almost ceased to compose. She wrote no more for chamber ensembles or orchestra, but did compose a few pieces for piano. Nevertheless, her reputation as a composer remained strong. She won an important prize, the Chartier prize, for her chamber music not once, but twice, in 1861 and 1869. Louises musical energies took a new direction after 1860. She devoted herself to a project that Aristide had begun a few years earlier. This was an anthology of music for keyboard that brought together the best examples of keyboard repertoire from the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The anthology would eventually grow to twenty-three volumes. It is hard for us to imagine today how little was known in the 19th century about music composed in earlier centuries. Listeners and musicians alike were uninterested in what had been composed previous to their own lifetimes. Music that was in publication from earlier centuries was often re-arranged and corrected in order to sound more like 19th century music. Editors would take out parts they didnt like and add new passages to suit their own preference. Arisitide had the idea of publishing a set of early music anthologies that would showcase the authentic original compositions. He sought out manuscripts and early editions, trying to find the most authentic versions of what the composer created. He had this music copied and published with notes on where he found the music and how to play each piece in an authentic early style. He called this publication The Pianists' Treasure.

Ornaments are a particularly important part of authentic early music performance. An ornament is a quick melodic flourish added to an important note in the music. Pianists of the 19th century usually left out the ornaments when they played early music and as a result much of the life was drained out of the music. Louise was fascinated by ornaments and wrote a detailed description of how to play ornaments correctly in the preface to The Pianists' Treasure. The illustration here shows how several different ornaments


are played. The squiggles over the notes on the top staff signify different kinds of ornaments. The music on the lower staff show how to play the ornaments.

Here is a recording of Premier Order: La Manon by Francois Couperin. It is performed on harpsichord (see below for more information on the harpsichord). See if you can notice all the ornaments in it and imagine how dull it would sound without the ornaments:

Keyboards--All Sizes and Sounds from 16th to 19th Century

From the Middle Ages to the present, many different types of keyboard instruments have been developed: organs, clavichords, and harpsichords all preceded the invention of the modern piano in the 1720s. Early compositions for keyboard often do not specify which type of keyboard is intended, and many pieces are considered equally appropriate for several different types of keyboard. The music in The Pianists Treasure came from compositions that would have been played on these early keyboards that existed long before the modern piano was developed. This chapter will describe each of the most important early keyboard instruments for which the music in The Pianists Treasure was composed. Louise and Aristide believed that pianists should understand and respect both the music and the instruments for which it was composed.


The organ is a keyboard attached to pipes. Each note comes out of a pipe and creates a sound like a wind instrument. Medieval organs were very small, and the air was pumped by hand through the pipes to help produce the sound. In the 16th century engraving on the left, a woman is pumping the air to help the organist create the sound. The organ is small enough to fit on a tabletop. The 19th century picture below shows how much bigger the organ had become over the centuries. The organist is sitting at the keyboard in front of the pipes, which reach up to the ceiling.


The clavichord and harpsichord are keyboard instruments that produce sound by plucking the strings. The player hits a key on the keyboard, and the key is connected to a plucker, which plucks the strong. Clavichords, like the one on below, were quite small. You can see the keyboard on the left and the strings stretching out on the right side of the instrument. It has only sixty-three keys, as compared to a pianos eighty-eight keys. Harpsichords were larger and could have up to two separate tiers of keyboards, like the one on the left. It is possible that Louises Thirty Etudes, published in 1838 may have been partly responsible for inspiring Aristides interest in early music. As explained above, the Etudes were written in several different early historical styles. Louise may have recognized even before Arisitide the importance early music for keyboard. Aristide and Louise worked together on the first eight volumes of The Pianists Treasure. In January, 1865, Arisitide died suddenly. Louise continued the work, to its completion with a total of twenty-three volumes.


The Last Years

Louise retired from the Conservatory in 1872. Three years later she died on September 16, 1875. She is buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery. She received a beautiful obituary in the Revue et Gazette Musicale, which praised her rich imagination, and her many accomplishments as editor, teacher, and composer. Louise Farrenc left fifty-one musical compositions and an imposing body of early music research. Traces of her personal life, on the other hand, have almost entirely disappeared. Living in Paris throughout the political upheavals of her time she must have climbed over barricades during the many revolutions and political protests that took place in Paris. She must have avoided gunshots from both protesters and the military on many occasions, as political protest and government reprisals were often violent and indiscriminate, wounding innocent passersby as well as protestors. She must have worried about catching the cholera during the severe epidemic of 1832, and gone without food during the Prussian siege of Paris in 1871. As yet, no diaries or letters have been found to tell us what Louise thought about these events. However, judging from the dedication it took for a woman to succeed as a composer, Conservatory teacher, and musicologist during her era, perhaps the tempestuous political controversies of her age were of far less importance to her than music. Louise was dedicated to her students, her family, and to music.


Why is Louise so Little Known Today?

Reading the enthusiastic reviews of Louises performances and compositions, and considering the prizes she won and her long tenure as full professor at the Paris Conservatory, we may wonder why so few people know of her today. Firstly, although Louise was well known during her lifetime, she did not have the great acclaim of other composers who were important during that era. Romanticism was on the rise--composers like Beethoven, Berlioz, Chopin, and Liszt were writing music that captivated audiences with dramatic and emotional effects. Louises music itself is classical, balanced, and intellectually engaging rather than adventurous or daring, like that of Beethoven and Berlioz. Furthermore, audiences were intrigued by the flamboyant and sometimes scandalous behavior of many of the male composers and performers. Composers like Berlioz, for example, conducted their own symphony performances in the manner of a human volcano. Liszt performed his own pieces on the piano with flashing eyes and great swaying motions of his body, so that audiences would often sigh and weep in response. This cartoon from 1840 shows the composer Franz Liszt performing his music in his typically flamboyant style. He encouraged the audience to express their emotions and their admiration of him by showering him with flowers and sighing with happiness. You can see one woman who has fainted-a common occurrence in concerts by the more dramatic performers, like Liszt.


These behaviors were considered completely improper for a woman. In fact, reviews of Louises own piano performances praise her for her severe yet delicate and charming manner. The public respected her for her dignity on stage, but would never worship her as a cult figure like Liszt. The image here shows how Louise might have looked when performing: dignified, elegant, reserved. Louises focus on chamber music also influenced her success. To be a bigsuccess in 19th century Paris it was essential to compose in the big genres---symphony and opera. Although Louise wrote symphonies (two overtures and three symphonies), her chief devotion was to solo piano and chamber music--areas where it was much harder to gain attention and fame. If Louise had continued to compose throughout her life, after the death of Victorine, who knows how her music might have developed? Her devotion to early music research and publishing was a great gift to the world, but perhaps it was given at the cost of developing her own compositional talents. Nevertheless, the completion of the entire twentythree volume set of The Pianists Treasure is considered a monumental achievement and is still used for study and performance today. Fortunately, more and more recordings and performances of Louise Farrencs music are becoming available today. As we listen to these pieces we can enjoy the grace and intelligence of the music and be inspired by the spirit, the courage, and the diligence of Louises life.


TIMELINE of Louise's Life and French Government 1804: Louise is born. 1804: Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of France. 1814: Napoleon abdicates and is sent in to exile in the island of Elbe. Louis XVIII is crowned King. 1819: Louise begins taking lessons in composition from Anton Reicha. 1821: Louise marries Aristide Farrenc. 1824: Charles X is crowned King. 1826: Louise gives birth to Victorine. 1830: Charles X is overthrown in the July 1830 Revolution. 1830: Louis-Philippe I is crowned The Citizen King of France. 1838: LouisesThirty Etudes for Keyboard is published. 1841: Louise obtains the post of music teacher to the family of Duke FerdinandPhilippe dOrleans in the Palace of the Tuilleries. 1842: Louise obtains the post of full professor at the Paris Conservatory. 1848: Louis-Philippe I abdicates the throne. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte I) is elected President. 1852: Napoleon III (Louis Napoleon Bonaparte) is crowned Emperor. 1859: Louises daughter, Victorine, dies.


1860 (approximately): Louise begins work with Aristide on The Pianists Treasure. 1861: Louise wins the Chartier prize for chamber music. 1865: Death of Aristide. 1869: Louise wins the Chartier prize again. 1870: Adolphe Theirs is elected President. 1872: Louise retires from the Conservatory. 1873: Marchal Patrice de MacMahon elected President. 1875: Louise dies and is buried in Montparnasse Cemetery.


Two Little Orphans: a Musical Mystery?

Louise and Victorine is the title of a book of stories by Mme Cesarie Farrenc published in 1843. Although it is a book of fiction, the title and many other clues in the book suggest that it might have been written with Louise Farrenc and her daughter Victorine in mind. The first story in the book features two sisters named Louise and Victorine. Louise is the older, Victorine the younger. Their father is a poor painter who goes abroad to claim an inheritance. A war between France and the United States makes sea travel unsafe for the father and his return to his family is delayed. The mother dies of despair and Louise and Victorine must earn their living by sewing. Their virtuous industry impresses their landlord, whose wife takes the two girls under her care. Although they are now living with the landlords wealthy family, Louise insists that she and her sister continue to wear simple clothes and avoid taking on airs and graces of their richer friends. Eventually their father returns, now wealthy, and the family is reunited. The second story is titled Marguerite, the Young Musician. This story seems even more closely related to Louise Farrencs real life, as it concerns a young girl who learns to play a musical instrument with great skill and who supports her family by giving music lessons. Marguerites instrument is the harp, whereas Louise Farrencs was the piano. However, both the real Louise and the Marguerite in the story are devoted to music and both go out into the world outside of home to develop careers teaching music. The story of Marguerite is full of melodrama typical of books written for young readers in the 19th century. Marguerite and her sister Rose are orphaned when their poor father dies. Marguerite and Rose are taken into the care of their rich uncle, who favors Rose and spoils her because she is pretty, while neglecting the plainer, more serious Marguerite. A tutor is hired to teach the girls. Rose refuses to study or attend to lessons, but Marguerite works hard at all her lessons, especially her harp lessons. All the noble impulses of her being led her towards music; she understood that her harp would become her only friend in this rich mansion.


In spite of his neglect, Marguerite loves and prays for her uncle. One day the uncle comes home, and hearing lovely sounds of harp music, assumes it is Rose who is playing. He presents Rose at a party, where she disgraces herself and embarrasses her uncle by playing terribly. The uncle furiously accuses the tutor of being an inept teacher; the tutor defends himself and urges Marguerite to play the harp and show what her own hard work as well as his good teaching have accomplished. Marguerite does not wish to embarrass Rose, but reluctantly obeys her tutor?s pressing request to perform. She begins to play. The child, the performer is no longer in the presence of her uncle, of her teacher, of all this crowd that would judge her: Marguerite was in the middle of a myriad of angles and seraphs who smiled at her and encouraged her; all the things of the earth disappeared, and by the magic of the art that she loved she believed herself transported to the heavens. All her spirit seemed to be concentrated in her fingers, the chords of her harp vibrated with melodious sadness... Soon after this episode, the uncle loses his cushy government job when some bad report of him reaches his superiors ears. The uncle is ruined, his income gone. Their sumptuous house has only been rented, so the uncle has no resources, having lived lavishly without saving anything. The uncles friends desert him. Marguerite, Rose, and the uncle are obliged to move to a bleak dark attic. Marguerite goes out, determined to make a living. She meets her old tutor, who is now ready to retire and assigns all his pupils to Marguerite. At the end of a year Marguerite places a bag of million francs in her uncles lap, explaining how she has earned the money. I am a professor, uncle, says Marguerite with a noble dignity. I am an artiste! The story concludes with Rose bitterly reflecting that in a few years My devastating beauty will no longer exist, but the talent of Marguerite will be increased again and again to the last days of her life. Can a book of fiction tell us anything about the life of a real person? There are many clues in the book that suggest a close relationship between the author and Louise Farrenc. First, and most obviously, the authors last name is the same as Louises married name. The author was almost an exact contemporary of Louise Farrenc, being born one year later than Louise and dying in the same year as she did.


Character names are another clue. The first story features characters named Louise and Victorine. Louises daughter Victorine was seventeen years old when the book was published, just the age of reader for which this kind of story was written. The father in the first story is, like Louises father, an artist (the father in the story is a painter; Louises father was a sculptor). The father of Marguerite in the second story is M. Dermont, almost the same as Louises birth family name of Dumont. The importance of music in the second story and the portrayal of a young woman taking pride in earning a living as a music teacher also suggest that the author could have based the character of Marguerite on Louise. Given that this book was almost certainly written with Louise and her daughter specifically in mind as models for the characters, it is likely that it gives us a glimpse of the values that were important to Louise Farrenc. Both stories emphasize the importance of maintaining a modest and unpretentious demeanor even in the company of wealthy friends. When Camille, a character in the first story says, Virtue, merit, and talent-these are the true characteristics of nobility we can easily imagine Louise Farrenc nodding in agreement. Louise frequently was in the company of wealthy people--society hostesses and patrons of the arts, yet her myriad accomplishments attest to preference for work over socializing. And when Marguerite at the end of her story proclaims, I am a professor, I am an artiste! we get a glimpse of the pride and self-confidence in professional accomplishment that was so unusual for a 19th century woman, and which was such an important part of Louise Farrencs character. Unfortunately, little is known of the author. She was born in Draguignan, a city not far from the birthplace of Aristide Farrenc (husband of Louise). She was married to a cavalry officer and was widowed with three children to support. Writing was one of the few respectable ways for a woman to earn a living at the time, so with this purpose she moved to Paris in 1834. She gained success as a writer for young readers and published many books. Was she related to Louise through the Farrenc family? Was she a close friend or did she know of her and her daughter through their performances? Victorine was only eight years old when Cesarie Farrenc moved to Paris, but was already beginning to perform in salon concerts by the 1840s when Cesarie wrote Louise et Vic-


torine. It seems almost certain that the author must have known of Louise Farrenc and may well have been closely related to the her husbands family. Is there a box of old letters somewhere containing communications between Cesarie, Aristide, and Louise? This is a musical mystery that someone may solve some day.


This book began with a question. In my work as a school librarian I often field questions about where the books are. My friend and colleague, Rochelle Itzen, who teaches music at Friends Seminary, kept asking me, Where are the biographies of classical women composers? For elementary and middle grade students there are many well written biographies of composers such as Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, and William Schumann. The best known and frankly the truly best composers of the nineteenth century were men. Biographies of secondary composers such as Louise Farrenc are thick, impressive, expensive, scholarly books that are available only in academic libraries or through interlibrary loan. No librarian likes to answer the where question with the answer Nowhere. I wrote this book to make it possible for a young reader to learn about a composer who was distinguished in her time and is increasingly being revived in performances today. I have not claimed that her music is as good as that of her sensational contemporaries. Her music is beautiful. It has substance, grace, and integrity. Furthermore, her scholarship in early music was genuinely ground-breaking and is one of the foundation stones of the early music movement, which eventually made it possible for audiences to hear the true sound of music by composers such as Bach, Lully, Couperin, and Rameau. Louises teaching career was a remarkable and brave achievement for a 19th century woman. In these three areas, Louise Farrenc showed the way for other women who aspired to careers in music, be it through composing, performing, or scholarship. Books about the courageous outsiders of past centuries make young readers more aware of outsider-ness in our own time and less likely to accept the invisibility of one group or another as natural. Moreover, as a librarian, I believe that young readers benefit from access to information about everything---not only the people we still know and admire today, but those who were famous in their own day if not ours; not only the flamboyantly well known, but the quietly distinguished. The lives of the forgotten join the the lives of the famous to create a bigger, more colorful tapestry of history. People are as important as databases and books in doing research. The people who helped me begin with my beloved companion, Michael Joseph, who introduced me to


Louise Farrenc by bringing home a CD of her music. Michael also was crucially helpful in sorting out the frustrations and peculiarities of ebook creation. Without his steady presence at the table where we do our writing this book would not have appeared outside my own computer screen. The majority of my research is based on Bea Friedlanders definitive scholarly biography of Farrenc. Dr. Friedlander showed the way. My musicologist friends, Leanne Dodge and Justin Dodge, gave me invaluable advice about reading introductions and prefaces to any publications still in print by Louise or Aristide. They also pointed out a number of digital resources specific to musicological research. Our good friend Lissa Paul, professor of literature at Brock University, generously shared the techniques and strategies of a biographer. Grateful thanks is a due to my school, Friends Seminary of New York City, for the generous summer travel grant that allowed me to research the built environment of Louises life and for encouraging my interest in writing this book for young readers. Above all, I thank my mother, Dr. Eileen Higham and my father, Dr. John Higham for their example of scholarship and zeal for learning, for encouraging my interest in learning French, and for their love.


Works Cited
Ambache, Diane. "Women of Note." Women of Note. Web. 03 Sept. 2011. <>. Bloom, P. "Review: Contribution a L'histoire Sociale De La Musique En France. Hector Berlioz Et Edme-Marie-Ernest Deldevez: Formation Et Insertion Dans La Societe Du XIXe Siecle (1803-1897)." Music and Letters 83.2 (2002): 300-05. Print. Bowers, Jane Meredith.Teaching About the History of Women in Western Music. New York: S.n., 1976. Print. Ellis, Katharine. "Female Pianists and Their Male Critics in Nineteenth-Century Paris." Journal of the American Musicological Society 50.2-3 (1997): 353-85. Print. Ellis, Katharine. Interpreting the Musical Past: Early Music in Nineteenth-century France. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print. Farrenc, Aristide, and Louise Farrenc. Le Tresor Des Pianistes. New York: Da Capo, 1977. Print. Friedland, Bea. Louise Farrenc, 1804-1875: Composer, Performer, Scholar. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1980. Print. Hussey, Andrew. Paris: A Secret History. Bloomsbury, 2006. Print. Johnson, James H. Listening in Paris: a Cultural History. Berkeley: University of California, 1995. Print. Landes, Joan B. Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988. Print. Legras, Catherine. Louise Farrenc, Compositrice Du XIXe Sicle: Musique Au Fminin. Paris [u.a.: Harmattan, 2003. Print. Ross, James. "Music in the French Salon." French Music Since Berlioz. Ed. Caroline Potter and Richard Langham. Ashgate, 2006. 91-115. Print.


Schmid, Christoph Von. Louise et Victorine. Paris: Langlois Et Leclercq, [184. Print.} Silver, Catherine Bodard. "Salon, Foyer, Bureau: Women and the Professions in France." American Journal of Sociology 78.4 (1973): 836. Print. Tornius, Valerian Hugo, Agnes Platt, and Lilian Wonderley. Salons; Pictures of Society through Five Centuries, New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, 1929. Print. Tunley, David. Salons, Singers, and Songs: a Background to Romantic French Song 1830-1870. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2002. Print. Vattier, Guy. Une Famille D'Artistes, 1660-1884. 1890. Print. Weber, W. "Artisans in Concert Life of Mid-Nineteenth-Century London and Paris." Journal of Contemporary History 13.2 (1978): 253-67. Print. Weber, William. Music and the Middle Class: the Social Structure of Concert Life in London, Paris and Vienna between 1830 and 1848. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2004. Print.


Image Credits
Who Was Louise? Portrait of Louise Farrenc. Credit: Growing Up in 19th Century Paris--Boring or Thrilling? 1-French Mounted Artillery / Moltzheim. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 2-Piano Recital With Dancing. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 3-Scene Of Family Life, Early Nineteenth Century. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. An Unusual Family 1-Children Dancing. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 2-Young Girl Reading / Photo / 1855. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. A Glimpse of a Fallen Ruler Painting of Leonides at Thermopyles by Ingres. Credit: Music from the Age of Six Whistler / 'At The Piano' / 1859. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011.


Aristide: the Love of Her Life 1-Photograph by author 2-Photograph by author 3-Family Concert / Gutzwiller/ 1849. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. Early Career: Distinguished, Not Flashy French Fashion Plate Depicting Artistic Activities, 1867. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. Early Public Performances Camille Saint-Saens, Concert At Salle Pleyel, June 2, 1896. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. Among the Greats 1- Duke Ferdinand-Philippe d'Orleans. Credit:,_Duke_of_Orl%C3%A9ans 2- Painting of Duchess of Orleans. Credit:,_Helene.jpg Victorine Serenade / C.Graf / C.1960. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011.


A Woman and A Full Professor 1-Paris Conservatory. Credit: 2-A Street leading to the Conservatory. Photograph by the author A New Direction: Scholar of Early Music Sheet music showing ornaments. Credit: All Sizes and Sounds of Keyboards 1-Positive Organ. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 2-Salon Of Madame Viardot / Woodcut. Fine Art. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 3-Clavichord. Photography. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 4-Harpsichord (dual) / P.Dubois, 1780. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. Why is Louise so Little Known Today? 1-Franz Liszt During.. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011. 2-Young Woman Playing The. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 9 Aug 2011.


About the Author

Constance Vidor is the Director of Library Services at Friends Seminary in New York City. She has a B.M. from New England Conservatory, an M.M.Ed. from Towson University, and an M.L.S. from University of Maryland, College Park. Before becoming a librarian she taught music and performed in early music ensembles. Other internet publications include the Voicethread: Johann Sebastian Bach and Paul McCartney: and Interactive Comparative Introduction for Middle Students at http:// Contact: