CD Spotlight: Louise Farrenc, Symphony No. 2 and Overtures Nos. 1 & 2
Louise Farrenc was a remarkable woman, storming the citadel of classical music and creating works that sound bold and fresh, even today. Born into an artistic family, she was encouraged to pursue a career in music. She followed that passion, studying with great composers of the day - her piano lessons were with Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and her composition professor was Antonin Reicha. And she got noticed; one of the few French composers writing symphonies, Farrenc’s works were played in subscription series even as she garnered accolades as a piano soloist. Her brilliant reputation led her to a prestigious appointment as professor of piano at the Paris Conservatory, a post she would hold for three decades. Admired as a composer and beloved as a teacher, Farrenc still made less than her male counterparts in her first ten years at the Conservatory. But when she landed a resounding success with her Nonet, Farrenc lobbied for equal pay…and got it.
Sadly, as is too often the case, Farrenc’s legacy would not last. After her death in 1875, interest in her works faded, and she was forgotten. Until now. Farrenc’s symphonies are once again showing up in concerts, including next season with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and her music is increasingly being recorded. We shine a spotlight on a CD of Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 2, paired with her Overtures Nos. 1 & 2, both early works. Also of great value are her Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 and her sparkling chamber music. These are bold and beautiful works, filled with power and grace, worthy of once again finding a home in the concert halls.