Forgotten Works of the “Female Beethoven”
Piano Concerto by Emilie Mayer

She is one of the many female composers whose life and work have long been forgotten, the German composer Emilie Mayer. Born in Mecklenburg in 1812, she was extremely successful in her time, and yet is forgotten in our own.

The talented child of an apothecary received her first organ lessons at the age of five. Very early in this context, she began free interpretations and composed her first small pieces. From 1841 to 1847 she received lessons from Carl Loewe, where, among other things, her Singspiel “Die Fischerin” (The Fisherwoman) was written, as well as various songs, chamber music works and symphonies. Later she continued her studies in Berlin with Adolf Bernhard Marx. Unusually for her as a woman, she also undertook concert tours to Vienna, Hamburg and Halle, among other places.

In Berlin, as an unmarried woman, she kept an open house and had lively contact with important figures in society. She herself was known for ignoring conventions. Her style of dress, for example, was considered rather idiosyncratic and she had a habit of attaching important things to it, as she was very forgetful. She died of pneumonia in 1883. Her grave was later designated an honorary grave of the state of Berlin.

Emilie Mayer created an extensive body of work. In addition to the Singspiel, which was written during her time with Carl Loewe, she composed eight symphonies, twelve string quartets, chamber music, concert overtures, violin and cello sonatas, piano works, songs and a piano concerto. Her works were lost for a long time and were only rediscovered from the 1980s onwards.

The Kölner Akademie has now also dedicated itself to Emilie Mayer and recorded the composer’s piano concerto in a world premiere recording. The soloist is the pianist Tobias Koch. The Kölner Akademie recording is complemented by concert overtures by the forgotten composer, who was so famous during her lifetime that she was described as the “female Beethoven”.