Academic journal article Notes

"A Suitable Soloist for My Piano Concerto": Teresa Carreno as a Promoter of Edvard Grieg's Music

Academic journal article Notes

"A Suitable Soloist for My Piano Concerto": Teresa Carreno as a Promoter of Edvard Grieg's Music

Article excerpt


Teresa Carreno (1853-1917) first performed Edvard Grieg's (18431907) Pictures from Folk Life, op. 19 [Folkelivsbilleder] and Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16, during her tours in the United States in the early 1880s. She continued to perform his works in the United States and abroad through 1914. Previously overlooked correspondence, reviews, and other primary sources, such as concert programs, housed in the Edvard Grieg Collection in the Bergen Offentlige Bibliothek, and the Teresa Carrefio Collection in Archives and Special Collections of the Vassar College Libraries, are examined in this article in order to provide fresh insight and historical context of Carreno's performance reception, as well as both her personal and professional relationship with Edvard Grieg. In addition to the correspondence between Carreno and Grieg, letters to the Viennese agent Albert J. Gutmann are also examined, and demonstrate Grieg's preference for Carreno as soloist--despite his access to other great pianists--as well as their friendship and collegiality, choices in repertoire selection, concert preparations, and other important events in their lives.


Teresa Carreno (1853-1917), Venezuelan pianist and composer, is often most remembered in reference works and literature as Edward MacDowell's (1860-1908) early piano teacher, and more importantly as an early promoter of his piano music. Carreno's early biographer, Marta Milinowski, placed great emphasis on her interaction with the MacDowell family, especially his mother Frances "Fanny" MacDowell, as well as Carreno's performances of MacDowell's compositions in the United States and abroad. (1) Although her interaction and relationship with Edward and his mother is well established, the majority of correspondence between Carreno and the MacDowell family, as well as other prominent musicians or figures, remains under-analyzed and unpublished. This neglect can be attributed partly to the geographical dispersion of the Carreno collection following its donation to Vassar College in 1931, the location of primary sources in inaccessible archival or private collections, as well as the general character of Carreno scholarship. (2)

One significantly overlooked aspect of her career that emerges from her correspondence is her association with Edvard Grieg (1843-1907). Between the years 1880 and 1914, Carreno was an avid promoter of Grieg's music. Her efforts on his behalf, as well as the friendship that developed between them, can be viewed through correspondence, as well as concert programs, reviews, and detailed discussion of performances of his work. (3) Primary source materials, more readily accessible due to their recent digitization, demonstrate not only a friendship between Carreno and Grieg, but also collegial support for one another. This relationship between the two musicians has thus far remained largely overlooked by Carreno scholars. (4) Fortunately, archives with collections containing materials relevant to both Carreno and Grieg have created more access points through online finding aids, catalogs, as well as digitization of primary sources. One such archive, the Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek in Bergen, Norway, which houses the Edvard Grieg Collection, has made correspondence and other sources, previously accessible only with a visit to their archives, now available as digitized content. These sources can provide greater insight not only into Grieg and Carreno's professional relationship, but can also be used by scholars as the basis for the creation of a more accurate chronology, as well as provide context for concerts, repertoire, and other information dealing with concert planning.

This article will examine the relationship between Carreno and Grieg as revealed in letters and concert programs for corresponding performances housed in the Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek and the Teresa Carreno Collection (1862-1991) located in Archives and Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries. …

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