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Profile of Teresa Carreño

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Born:

December 22, 1853

Birthplace:

Caracas, Venezuela

Died:

June 12, 1917 in New York City

Also Known As:

Teresa Carreño was a piano prodigy, celebrated concert pianist, composer, conductor, mezzo-soprano and director of an opera company. She was dubbed "Valkyrie of the piano." She was the granddaughter of the Venezuelan composer Jose Cayetano Carreño.

Type of Compositions:

Carreño mainly wrote pieces for the piano but she also wrote a string quartet, a serenade and a book titled "Possibilities of Tone Color by Artistic Use of Pedals."

Influence:

Her politician father, Manuel Antonio Carreño, was her first piano teacher. Carreño's gift as a pianist and composer was evident early on; she started composing short piano pieces when she was 6 years old. Due to political unrest in their country and the desire to further hone her skill, the Carreño family moved to New York City in 1862. In New York, Carreño studied with the American pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

Other Influences:

From New York she then went to Paris where she studied with Anton Rubinstein and Georges Mathias. While there, she met and performed for several notable composers including Gioachino Rossini, Franz Liszt, Charles Gounod and Camille Saint-Saëns. Carreño would go on to tour various countries as a celebrated concert pianist. She influenced a crop of young pianists and composers during her time including Edward MacDowell and Amy Beach.

Notable Performances:

  • November 25, 1862 - Made her debut at Irving Hall in New York
  • 1863 - Performed at the White House for President Abraham Lincoln
  • January 1876 - Made her debut as an opera singer in New York City; played the role of Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni
  • November 18, 1889 - Performed with the Berlin Philharmonic

Interesting Facts:

Carreño was married four times; first to violinist Emile Sauret in 1873, then to baritone Giovanni Tagliapietra, followed by the pianist Eugène d’Albert and finally to Arturo Tagliapietra (brother of her second husband) in 1902.

Music Sample:

Listen to Teresa Carreño's "Ballade for piano Op. 15" performed by Alexandra Oehler courtesy of YouTube.

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