Playing with Louise
The first female Conservatory teacher in Paris
Louise Farrenc was a French pianist, composer, teacher and musical legend. She was born on May 31st in 1804 and she made a name for herself in arts that were only available to men at the time. She is the only woman to study piano at the Paris Conservatory in the 19th century and you might know her for piano works like "Air russe varie", a piece of 30 etudes in major and minor keys.
You can hear one of her compositions below, while continuing to read her story:
Jeanne-Louise Farrenc was born to father Jacques-Edme Dumont and his wife - her mother isn't known. She had a brother, Auguste Dumont, who followed their father’s path. She is part of an artistic family, on the talented male side they were all great sculptors.
Surrounded by men all her life, this gave her the push she needed to never back down. Her work was “verve and bold” and “strong and spirited”, which led to her demand of equal performance pay later on. Even if she wasn’t successful as a composer – only opera writers were at the time, she got everybody’s attention as a performer.
Louise Farrenc's musical studies
Before students had to learn her pieces at the Conservatory, Louise was a pupil. She began her music lessons at a young age, girls studied the beautiful arts, but soon her family discovered she had a real talent. To drive her professional potential, they got her private lessons with famous teachers like Ignaz Moscheles, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Anton Reicha.
She was a teenager when she began piano lessons and she was lucky. Because she belonged to an artistic world, she got to pursue her passions and expresses her hidden talents. At 15 she was the first female to study at the Paris Conservatory. While many years later she was the first female teacher there for over three decades, breaking one barrier after another for women in arts.
While studying, she discovered the pleasure of both structure and freedom that composing offers. It’s remarkable that she continued on this path because of the pleasure it offered, given that her work wasn’t picked up often by famous musicians. One that did stand out was a nonet played by violinist Joseph Joachim who made her popular.
Between personal and professional
Louise Farrenc married an older fellow Conservatory student, the flautist Aristide Farrenc, at 17 years old. He was her biggest supporter, but she put on pause her brilliant studies to play duets with him around the country. Yet, her creative drive wasn’t paused. She even inspired their daughter, Victorine, to study piano until her 30s, but her pursuit was short because of her death.
The two traveled together, but they also worked together. Besides playing music, they opened a music publishing house and collaborated on writing historical music books. “The Treasures of Pianists” is a series of volumes that dates back 300 years of piano and harpsichord music.
Farrenc has many pieces that help pianists promote their hidden talents. Her work wasn’t delicate like a flower, a label for women’s composing works. No, it was bold and dynamic and asked of the artist to give everything they have. She starts slow and the pace gets more force and slows back again.
She is also popular for her chamber music, for which she received the Chartier Prize from the Academie des Beaux-Arts twice. If in the beginning it was only for piano players, it evolved during her career for winds, strings, clarinet, violin, cello and flute. She departed Earth on the 15th of September 1875, but we'll never forget her music.
Fast forward to today, we honor her memory and accomplishments with some stunning silver jewelry that you can get it here:
This necklace symbolizes the foundation of every harmony - The Seven Chords. Behind every symphony, no matter how complex it is and how many layers of instruments you play, the root always lies in seven simple notes. Your jewelry is the rhythm of your outfit. Un-mute it and spread your song wherever you go!
See more of music inspired jewelry here and grab yours. We promise that comes beautifully packed in velvet and zero bubble wrap.
Looking forward to meet you!
Martina Vincenzo Team