Teresa Carreno Biography

(Pianist an internationally renowned virtuoso pianist and was often referred to as the)

Birthday: December 22, 1853 (Capricorn)

Born In: Caracas, Venezuela

Teresa Carreno was a renowned Venezuelan pianist, soprano, composer, and conductor.Due to her unbounded energy and passion in her music shows, she was nicknamed the Valkyrie of the Piano. Teresa Carreno was born into a music-loving family that had produced three generations of outstanding musicians. Beginning her training at the age of six with her father in Venezuela, she later moved with her family to the USA, where she made her professional debut at the age of eight. It was so very successful that she began to give regular concerts, appearing in uncountable number of programs across the globe over a period of fifty-four years, concurrently studying with many world-renowned musicians. Over the time, she became known not only as an outstanding pianist, but also as a successful soprano, composer, and conductor. In her later years, she also started teaching, instructing her students in person whenever she could, sending notes by post at other times. She premiered several compositions of her favorite student, Edward MacDowell. Mother of six surviving children, she was as caring and affectionate to her students as she was to her own brood.

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Quick Facts

Also Known As: María Teresa Gertrudis de Jesús Carreño García

Died At Age: 63

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Arturo Tagliapietra (m. 1902–1917), Émile Sauret (m. 1873–1877), Eugen d'Albert, Giovanni Tagliapietra (dom. part. 1877–1889)

father: Manuel Antonio Carreño

mother: Clorinda García de Sena y Rodríguez del Toro

children: Emilita, Eugenia, Eugenia Harris-D'Albert, Hertha, Hertha Weber-D'Albert

Born Country: Venezuela

Pianists Composers

Died on: June 12, 1917

place of death: New York City, New York, United States

City: Caracas, Venezuela

Childhood & Early Life

Teresa Carreno was born as María Teresa Gertrudis de Jesús Carreño García on December 22, 1853 in Santiago de León de Caracas, Venezuela. Her father, Manuel Antonio Carreño Muñoz, was a renowned musician, educator and diplomat, known for works like Manual of Urbanity and Good Manners.

Her mother, Clorinda García de Sena y Rodríguez del Toro, was a relative of Simón Bolívar. Born second of her parents’ three surviving children, she had an elder sister named María Emilia Gertrudis de Jesús and younger brother called Manuel Antonio Alejo Ramón del Carmen. Two other siblings died in infancy.

At the age of six, she had her first piano lessons from her father, who wrote 500 piano exercises, comprising of all the scales, arpeggios, trills, thirds, octaves, for her. These she had to do every day, each day in a different key. Concurrently, she also studied with German musician, Julio Hohene.

By 1861, she was already composing short works for piano. Her early works include eight waltzes, one mazurka, three dances, two polkas, and three capriccios.

On July 23, 1862, the family was forced to leave Venezuela due to the ongoing Federal War. Apart from her family, the team included her grandmother, uncle and his wife, their two young children and a retinue of servants.

Travelling by sea, they reached the USA on 23 August 1862, eventually settling down in the New York City. Shortly, they met American pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who became her first mentor.

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A Child Progeny

On November 25, 1862, eight years old Teresa Carreno gave her first public recital at the Irving Hall, Manhattan, performing a Rondo Brillant, Op. 98; Grande fantaisie sur “Moise,” op. 33; Variations on “Home! Sweet Home!,” op. 72 etc  It earned her great critical acclaim and her family the much needed cash.

On January 2, 1863, she gave her second concert in Boston. Soon, she was traveling across the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, performing in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. In 1863, she also performed for President Lincoln at the White House.

In 1865, she received an invitation from Russian pianist and composer, Anton Rubinstein, to relocate to Paris so that she could study with him. Eventually, her father decided to accept the offer and relocate to France, reaching Paris in the first week of May, 1866.

In Europe

On May 14, 1866, thirteen-year-old Teresa Carreno made her European debut at the Salle Érard in Paris. It was followed shortly by another concert at St. James’s Minor Hall, London. Thereafter, she made a tour of England.

From 1867 to 1872, she lived mainly in England, but continued to give numerous concerts across United Kingdom, France, and Spain. Side by side, she studied with renowned composers and pianists, especially while in Paris and yet found time to write music.

In 1872, she began her operatic career. It occurred during a tour of England with James Henry Mapleson's opera company, which she had joined as a piano soloist. But a backstage crisis in Edinburgh forced her to sing the role of the queen in Les Huguenots, thus opening a new horizon for her.

Back in USA

In September 1872, Teresa Carreno returned to the USA with her troops. Soon she started giving a series of concerts, the first which took place on September 16 at Steinway Hall in New York, thereafter traveling across the country, intermittently traveling to Europe and UK.

From 1876 till 1889, she lived primarily in the USA, sharing concert bills with other famous singers. Concurrently, she continued to upgrade herself, studying singing with Mme. Rudersdorff. Teresa made her US operatic debut in New York City on February 25, 1876 in the role of Zerlina in Don Giovanni.

In October 1885, she visited Venezuela on the invitation of the country’s president, General Joaquín Crespo. There she gave several performances, including one in Caracas on October 27, remaining in the country through November 1886.

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She returned to Venezuela in 1887, intending to open the season at Teatro Guzmán Blanco with their new opera company. But the idea failed, mainly due to political unrest. Therefore, she returned to New York City in August 1887 and continued to perform in the United States.

Beloved Teacher & Composer

In the later years, Teresa Carreno started spending the summers in Germany, where she would spend time with her children, concurrently giving lessons to her numerous students, who often came to live with her. Many of these students later became established artists and composers, one among them being Edward MacDowell.

Despite her busy schedule, she had composed approximately seventy-five works. Among them, at least sixty-eight works were for piano, two for voice and piano, two for choir and orchestra, and two pieces of chamber music. While most of these works were composed between 1860 and 1875, she did write sporadically in 1880s and 1890s.

Major Performances

One of Teresa Carreno’s most memorable performances was her 1863 recital in the White House. Not at all intimated by such august present, she played Listen to the Mocking Bird on the request of President Abraham Lincoln and complained about the quality of the piano.

Among her compositions, most famous is the Teresita Waltz, which she wrote after watching her daughter taking her first steps.

Personal Life & Legacy

Teresa Carreno got married four times. Her first husband was French violinist and composer, Émile Sauret. Married in 1873, the couple had one surviving daughter named Emilita. The child was eventually adopted by Mrs. James Bischoff, with whom Carreno had initially left her. Later she tried to contact her; but was unsuccessful.

Carreno and Sauret divorced in 1877. By then, she had become involved with Giovanni Tagliapietra and had entered into a common-law marriage. They had three children: Louisa (born 1878), Teresita (born 1882), and Giovanni (born 1885). The union ended in 1889.

In 1892, she married Eugen d'Albert, with whom she had two children, Eugenia (born 1892), and Hertha (born 1894). Soon after the birth of Hertha, d'Albert abandoned the family and they were divorced in 1895.

In 1902, she married Arturo Tagliapietra, brother of her second husband Giovanni, remaining married to him until her death in 1917. It was her longest and happiest marriage.

In 1916, Carreno returned to the USA and performed for President Woodrow Wilson at the White House. In March 1917, she left for Havana; but became ill on the way and returned to New York where she was diagnosed with diplopia. She died of the disease on June 12, 1917.

Her ashes were repatriated to Caracas in 1938 and interred at the Panteón Nacional de Venezuela on December 9, 1977. The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in Caracas has been named after her and so is a crater in planet Venus.

See the events in life of Teresa Carreno in Chronological Order

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- Teresa Carreno Biography
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