LOUISE FARRENC

(1804-1875)

French composer Louise Farrenc was born into a family of sculptors. Louise entered the Paris Conservatory in 1819 at the age of 15. However, she had limited access to compositional education due to the fact that, until 1870, composition classes were reserved to men at the Conservatory.  In 1821 she married Aristide Farrenc, a flute student at the Conservatory, interrupting her studies to give concert tours as a couple. Eventually her husband grew tired of performing, and together they opened a publishing company, Éditions Farrenc, which was one of France’s leading music publishers for 40 years.


Louise returned to her studies and performing career, only to have her work disrupted again in 1826 by the birth of her daughter, Victorine Farrenc, who also became a concert pianist and composer. After Victorine’s death at age 33, Louise became an advocate for her daughter’s work and through this was inspired to research 17th-18th century piano repertoires, which would go on to further influence her later writing. She was appointed to the position of piano professor at the Paris Conservatory in 1842, which she held until 1873 -- the only female appointed to a professorship at the school in the entire 19th century. After a decade, she was able to use her music and reputation as a prestigious teacher to fight for and obtain pay equal to her male counterparts following the successful premiere of her Nonet for string quartet and wind quintet in 1849.


Louise Farrenc’s Cello Sonata in B-Flat Major, Op. 46, is one of 49 compositions by Farrenc with opus numbers. Despite her many setbacks and obstacles in developing her artistic career, Louise persevered and wrote a great amount of successful work. This performance of the exuberant finale of her cello sonata serves as a celebration of her life and work; her legacy of championing the work of women in music in the 19th century serves as an example of resilience and determination in promoting the work of marginalized people. -- By Emily Singleton