Friday, October 5, 2012

Teresa Carreño (b Caracas, 22 Dec 1853; d New York, 12 June 1917)

Teresa Carreno
Teresa Carreño was a pianist, composer, conductor, and singer. Her father, Manuel Antonio Carreño a politician and amateur musician, started Teresa's music lessons at an early age, awakening in her a strong sense of self-criticism to which she attributed much of her success. Her earliest compositions, short piano pieces, date from her sixth year. The brilliance of her piano playing provided motivation for her family's decision to leave Venezuela, in order both to bring her to broader attention, and to complete her musical education. At eight years old she moved to New York where she began studies with Gottschalk. Teresa made her debut in New York's Irving Hall on November 25, 1862. In January 1863, she performed for the first time in Boston, and her first published composition, entitled "Gottschalk Waltz" dedicated to the composer, appeared in Boston later in the year. In the fall of this same year, she performed for Abraham Lincoln in the White House. In March 1866 she and her family sailed for Europe where they later settled in Paris. In Paris, Teresa became acquainted with other famous pianists and composers. After studies in Paris with Mathias and Anton Rubinstein, Teresa began her career at the young age of twelve. 

After her mother died of cholera, she and her father traveled to Spain where she gave concerts in Madrid and Zaragoza. She composed many of her piano works during this time, most well before her twentieth birthday. Her career took off fast and never slowed down. She toured the world, focusing on Europe, but with stops in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Cuba, the U.S., and Venezuela. Carreño returned to Venezuela, for the first and only time, where she lived for close to two years. She contributed to the classical music scene through compositions, she helped compose a patriotic chorus in honor of Simón Bolivar's birth, managed an opera company, and helped plan a conservatory of music. She pursued a brief, but somewhat successful, career as an opera singer and made her debut in New York City. 

She was married four times and had five surviving children. She spent the bulk of her life living in Germany where she taught music and performed with the Berlin Philharmonic. In September 1916 she left Berlin and traveled to the United States for the last time. During a tour of Cuba in 1917 she fell ill. After returning to New York, Teresa Carreño died on June 12, at the age of sixty-four. Teresa Carreño was hailed as one of the most accomplished pianists of her day. In 1938 her ashes were ceremoniously laid to rest in Venezuela.

Teresa Carreño plays Chopin

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