May 14, Birthday of Emilie Mayer (1812-1883)


Emilie Mayer was born in 1812 in the town of Friedland, Germany, and died in Berlin at the age of 70. Considered the female Beethoven of the time, she enjoyed great popularity during her life, but lapsed into obscurity after her death. The first recording of any of works took place in 2001 as a result of a conference in Berlin on 19th century women composer. Since then quite a few of her works have been rediscovered and recorded.

She was the musically precocious daughter of a fairly wealthy pharmacist, whose mother died shortly after her birth. When she was taking piano lessons, she had a tendency to improvise, and her music teacher encouraged her to compose her own pieces–which she did starting at the ripe age of 7.

Around the age of 28, her father committed suicide, and distraught, she moved to Poland to restart her life. There she studied composition, and after her work started to gain attention, she moved to Berlin to continue her studies.

Over the next 42 years, she composed over 70 works including 8 symphonies, chamber music, lieder, and an opera.

In 2012, during which was the 200th anniversary of her birth, many more pieces were performed, however Amazon (even in Germany) lists only three CDs. Youtube turned up quite a few. I enjoyed her string quartet, and the symphonies, violin sonatas, and other works I’m sure will be a delight to listen to.

String Quartet in E minor

Symphony No. 5 in F minor

Symphony No.7 in F-minor (Sometimes also listed as Symphony No. 5)

“Notturno” in D minor

Symphony No. 4 in B minor

Piano Concerto

Faust Overture

Symphony No. 5 in F minor

About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

7 Responses to May 14, Birthday of Emilie Mayer (1812-1883)

  1. kvennarad says:

    Prolific; her music is very classical and technically good, but to listen to it you would swear she had decided to compose in a style that would have only been challenging at the time of her birth. I’ll give her credit for wanting to map familiar territory more precisely.


    • kurtnemes says:

      I quite liked her string quartet and one of the symphonies reminded me of the Scottish symphony of Mendelssohn (who was only 3 years older than she). Granted she wrote it some 20 years after his, but, I’m curious, what pieces were you thinking of that might have been more challenging at the time of her birth?


      • kvennarad says:

        Pieces by her or by others? I was speaking of her general style, which seems to have been behind the times.


      • kurtnemes says:

        Aren’t we all?


      • kvennarad says:

        Well, an innovator isn’t (unless you side with Roland Barthes, who argues for our all being products of what went before).

        You’re really not going to let this go, are you? Although I see that you edited out your comment about Rachmaninoff.

        You have to remember I’m not a musicologist, not even a musician, so I can only give the ignorant opinion of a lay person who listens to music and voices what is apparent to her. Some composers seem to use existing conventions and, no matter how technically adept they are, say nothing new. Other composers (the 20c British Romantics come to mind) can state with brilliance that there is still exploration to be done in an already-explored territory.

        Liked by 1 person

      • kurtnemes says:

        Busted on the Rock. I’m not a Musician or musicologist either. Just tilting at windmills. I think that what I’m doing is like a miner-sometimes I think everything I dig up is going to be the real deal. Others will determine whether it’s gold or pyrite when they assay it. (Barthes did write a nice essay about steak-frites.)


      • kurtnemes says:

        PS. In truth, I didn’t find her bouleversante.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: