Home / Persons / MONTGEROULT Hélène de

Print content of page

MONTGEROULT, Hélène de (1764-1836)

Hélène de Montgeroult, née Hélène de Nervo, was born in Lyon in the reign of Louis XV. A brilliant pianist, the pupil of Hüllmandel, Dussek and Clementi, she was often regarded as the greatest virtuoso of her time, a position which could have guaranteed her a prestigious career, had her aristocratic background not forced her to remain within the narrow confines of the Paris salons. During the French Revolution, legend has it that she escaped the guillotine by eloquently improvising a set of variations on La Marseillaise in front of the Committee of Public Safety. The first woman to be appointed Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatoire (in 1795), Montgeroult taught alongside Rigel, Jadin and Adam, actively helping to train the first virtuosos of the 19th century, including Cramer and Boëly. Although fragile health soon forced her to give up her teaching activities, she continued to perform alongside the most famous artistes of her time, like the violinists Baillot and Viotti. A close friend of Madame de Staël, she may have been one of the models for the “romantic” character of Corinne in the novel of the same name (1807). Hélène de Montgeroult’s output was largely dominated by her Cours complet pour l’enseignement du pianoforte, written between 1788 and 1812. This was a substantial collection of over a hundred progressive studies whose style both respected classical technique and heralded Romanticism. Montgeroult died during a stay in Florence and was buried in the cloister of the church of Santa Croce.

    Works - 3
  • Étude n° 110 (Hélène de Montgeroult)
  • Étude n° 97 (Hélène de Montgeroult)
  • Sonate n° 8 op. 5 n° 2 (Hélène de Montgeroult)
  • Theme - 1
  • Compositrices
  • Symposia - 2
  • Les compositrices au siècle de Pauline Viardot (2013)
  • The Sources of French Musical Romanticism. At the crossroads of Italian and German Influences. 1780-1830 (2009)