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Specially published to celebrate Piano Day, 29 March 2022, the 88th day of the year (because of the number of keys on the instrument being celebrated), this Beethovenian miniature by French composer Louise Farrenc is for solo piano. Newly re-engraved by Fullscore Publishing, with minor corrections from the original, it is free to download in pdf format.


Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) was a 19th-century French composer, virtuoso pianist and teacher who fought for equality. Born in 1804 into a bohemian Parisian family, she studied piano from an early age, encouraged along the way by virtuoso pianists, including Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870), Italian-born English composer Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) and Austrian composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837).  She joined the Paris Conservatory at the age of 15, in 1819, and started a career as a concert pianist after completing her studies.


Her fame as a pianist grew in the 1820s and 1830s, often playing Beethoven, and in 1842 she became the only woman to be appointed to the permanent position of professor at the Paris Conservatory in the 19th century. She held this position for 30 years, while all the time writing music for her beloved instrument, as well as three orchestral symphonies and two overtures. Among the most influential of her works for piano are Air Russe Varié and a collection of 30 Études, written in major and minor keys in 1839. This clatter ollection was favourably received in the Parisian music press in 1840 and would go on to be adopted by the Paris Conservatory as required piano repertoire in 1845. As was typical of études at that time, Farrenc’s compositions were designed to target technical studies and build the expressiveness of the player. Her biggest success came with her chamber music (mainly written in the 1840s), especially her two piano quintets (Op. 30 & 31).


In 1821 she married Aristide Farrenc, a flute player who was ten years her senior. Together they set up and ran a publishing house in Paris, Éditions Farrenc, which they ran successfully for 40 years.


Her battle for equality was driven not least by the inequality of her pay at the Paris Conservatory, where she continued her struggle for equal pay over a ten-year period. Louise Farrenc gained considerable lasting recognition for her concert performances, but, as has so often been the case throughout musical history, a composer too often doesn’t gain the true recognition for their compositional works during their own lifetime, and she was no different.


Source: Bru Zane Mediabase (a digital resource for French Romantic music)


Listen to a recording of Mélodie on Spotify or on YouTube.

The original score may be viewed on IMSLP here.


Mélodie ~ Louise Farrenc

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  • 3 pages (4 inc. cover)

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