Happy 163rd Birthday, Teresa Carreño / Feliz Cumpleaños!

Posted on December 18, 2016 by

One hundred and sixty three years ago today (12/22/1853), María Teresa Gertrudis de Jesús Carreño (Teresa Carreño) was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She became a piano prodigy who débuted at Irving Hall in New York City on November 25, 1862 at the age of eight years old. Performing works by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Sigismond Thalberg, Theodor Döhler, and Louis M. Gottschalk, which delighted her audience and demonstrated her virtuosic abilities, prompting New York critics to write:

Gottschalk Waltz

Teresa Carreño (Gottschalk Waltz)

“She deserves to be ranked, not as a child-wonder, who at the age of eight years has vanquished nearly all the technical difficulties of the piano, but as an artist of first-class sensibility…”1 and “A sprightly girl of eight years wrought such miracles of music upon the pianoforte as to evoke the most rapturous enthusiasm at first–then, when the truths of the case presented themselves more clearly and the realization of her extreme youth increased, a sense of profound astonishment seized every spectator.”2

Irving Hall (The Eno collection of New York City views)

Irving Hall (The Eno collection of New York City views)

For the next fifty-five years Carreño reigned as one of the top virtuoso pianists, becoming a household name in every major city across North America and Europe, as well as a highly sought after performer by music directors, conductors and composers. Between 1862 and her death in 1917 her concert tours took her across the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Russia, Australia and New Zealand, and Africa.3 Despite the difficulty in modes of travel, which for the majority of her career consisted of rail and ship, she made a direct impact in every major city and many small towns across five out of the seven continents.

In addition to being a virtuoso performer, Carreño composed approximately seventy-five compositions, primarily for solo piano. Many of her compositions have been published in modern day editions, including:

In order to document her achievements and legacy not only as a performer, but also a composer, and in honor of her birth on December 22, I have published a list of her seventy-five compositions on Wikipedia. This list was compiled from several sources, including those listed above, as well as my own review of manuscripts and early editions that inform my ongoing work about Teresa Carreño. In 2017, the centenary of her death (1917-2017) will be celebrated around the world with publications, concerts, and events, including an MLA conference panel, and a conference celebrating Amy Beach and Teresa Carreño.4

 

 

  1. New York Times, November 28, 1862.
  2. The World, November 27, 1862.
  3. This is a preliminary map depicting the cities where she performed, additional cities and dates are being identified and will be added to the data set.
  4. I have a forthcoming bio-bibliography about Teresa Carreño with A-R Editions; Jesús Eloy Gutiérrez has two forthcoming texts, Teresa Carreño: cartas y documentos (1863-1917) (inédito) and Teresa Carreño: venezolana universal (inédito), as well as a second edition of Para conocer a Teresa Carreño (segunda edición, Fundación Teresa Carreño, 2016).
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