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Emilie Mayer

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Compositions for: Piano

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2 Gesänge3 Humoresken, Op.413 Lieder, Op.7Allemande fantastique, Op.29Der ErlkönigHungaraise, Op.31Impromptu, Op.44Mazurka, Op.33Notturno, Op.48Piano Sonata in D minorPiano Trio, Op.12Piano Trio, Op.13Tonwellen, Op.30Valse, Op.32Violin Sonata, Op.17Violin Sonata, Op.18Violin Sonata, Op.19Violin Sonata, Op.29
Emilie Luise Friderica Mayer (14 May 1812, Friedland, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – 10 April 1883, Berlin) was a German composer of Romantic music. Emilie Mayer began her serious compositional study relatively late in life, yet she was a very prolific composer, producing some 8 symphonies and at least 15 concert overtures, plus numerous chamber works and lieder. She was the Associate Director of the Opera Academy in Berlin.
Emilie Mayer was the third of five children and the eldest daughter of a well-to-do pharmacist, Johann August Friedrich Mayer, and Henrietta Carolina. She received musical education at an early age; her first teacher was an organist, Carl Heinrich Ernst Driver. Even in her first years as a piano student, the young Emilie apparently had an eating disorder, which caused many issues in her compositions.
On August 28, 1840, her life took a sudden turn: Emilie Mayer's father fatally shot himself, 26 years to the day after he buried Emilie's mother.
In 1841, she moved to the regional capital city of Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland), and sought to study composition with Carl Loewe, a central figure of the musical life of the city. Author Marie Silling writes concerning this:
The death of her father caused her first deep sorrow; in order to numb this pain, she buried herself in work. She went to Szczecin and became Loewe's student. After a challenging test he said in his crafty manner: "You actually know nothing and everything at the same time! I shall be the gardener who helps the talent that is still a bud resting within your chest to unfold and become the most beautiful flower!" Emilie always considered it important to be thrifty in her own life but was continually giving to the needs of others. When, for these reasons, she asked Löwe whether she could share the composition lessons with other female pupils, he answered: "such a God-given talent as hers had not been bestowed upon any other person he knew." This statement filled her with the greatest thankfulness throughout her whole life and obliged her to work extremely hard.
After Carl Loewe passed away in 1869, the Loewe society was formed. Mayer dedicated two of her cello sonatas to members of the society and their families. Her Op. 47 is dedicated to the Baron von Seckendorff from Stargard, and her Op. 40 is dedicated to the sister of composer Martin Plüddemann from Kolberg.
In 1847, after the premiere of her first two symphonies (C minor and E minor) by the Stettin Instrumental Society, she moved to Berlin to continue her compositional studies. Once in Berlin, she studied fugue and double counterpoint with Adolph Bernhard Marx, and instrumentation with Wilhelm Wieprecht.
She began publishing her works (e.g. lieder and chants, op. 5-7, in 1848) and performing in private concerts. Then on April 21, 1850, Wieprecht led his "Euterpe" orchestra in a concert at the Royal Theatre exclusively presenting compositions by Emilie Mayer. With critical and popular acclaim, she continued composing works for public performance. She travelled to attend performances of her works, including to Cologne, Munich, Lyon, Brussels and Vienna.
Emilie Mayer was initially influenced by the Vienna classic style, whilst her later works were more Romantic.
Mayer's harmonies are characterised by sudden shifts in tonality and the frequent use of seventh chords, with the diminished seventh allowing Mayer to reach a variety of resolutions. One defining characteristic of Mayer's music is a tendency to set up a tonal centre with a dominant seventh, but not resolving to the tonic immediately; sometimes, resolution is skipped altogether.
Her rhythms are often very complex, with several layers interacting at once.