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Marie Jaëll


1846 - 1925

Composer, Pianist

Date of birth:
Date of death:

Born in Alsace, Marie Trautmann began lessons with Franz Hamma, a piano teacher in Stuttgart, at a very young age. She gave her first concert when she was twelve and continued her musical studies with Ignaz Moscheles, then Henri Herz at the Paris Conservatoire, where she received the Premier Prix in 1862. In 1866, she met the pianist Alfred Jaëll, and married him the same year. After studying composition under César Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns (whose friend and secretary she later became), she published her first works in 1871, while pursuing a brilliant career as a soloist. After spending some time in Weimar with Liszt (1883-85), she gave the first performance of his complete works in Paris in 1891. She also introduced French audiences to Beethoven’s thirty-two sonatas between 1892 and 1894. As a composer, Jaëll demonstrated great artistic rigour in works initially written for her instrument of choice: a piano sonata dedicated to Liszt (1871), Dix Bagatelles (1872), the Esquisses romantiques (1883) and three sets of pieces: Ce qu’on entend dans l’Enfer, - dans le Purgatoire, - dans le Paradis (1894). In the course of her career, she also turned her hand to numerous other musical genres: songs, choral music, musical drama, chamber music, and recently rediscovered orchestral music (a Cello Concerto, two piano concertos, orchestral mélodies). Her varied and interesting output was overshadowed, however, by an extensive corpus of theoretical and pedagogical writings, which she began in 1891 with her Commentaires des œuvres de Liszt and concluded with La Main et la Pensée musicale.