Born: June 8, 1856; Warsaw, Poland
Died: June 9, 1932; The Hague, The Netherlands
During the nineteenth century, it was extraordinarily difficult for a woman to build a career as a composer unless she happened to be a virtuoso performer as well, and then still the hurdles were plenty and high; even a concert veteran like Clara Schumann essentially gave up on composing. Polish pianist Natalia Janotha was a student of Schumann, more gifted at the keyboard perhaps even than her teacher and gifted with pen and manuscript paper asRead more well, yet her own compositions were limited -- either by her own choice or by the necessities of life and career -- to truffles and showpieces for piano. Still, she achieved considerable European renown as a performer, maintaining an active career well into her sixties.
Janotha was born in Warsaw in 1856 and as a child was put on the piano bench, both literally and metaphorically, by her father. She progressed steadily and quickly and gave a public recital in her hometown in 1868. In addition to her studies under Schumann, she was among the very few musicians lucky enough to be given a lesson or two by Brahms, though it would be too much to say that she was a real student of his (only one person, composer Gustav Jenner, could truthfully claim that). She quickly conquered continental European audiences and from 1885, held the position of pianist to the Imperial Court in Berlin. She was equally admired in England and made a second home there during the early twentieth century; political troubles during World War I, however, forced her to return to the mainland. She died in the Hague in 1932, one day past her 76th birthday.
Among the dozens and dozens of solo piano pieces she composed (the number is up in the several hundreds) is an item called Mountain Scenes, which she dedicated to Schumann and which is still heard today every so often. Read less