Rediscovering Louise Farrenc, 19th-century French composer

Posted on: October 12, 2021

“As the classical music world belatedly tries to put behind it the myriad prejudices it has inherited and perpetuated, [composer Louise] Farrenc’s music is returning to a prominence that her newfound proponents argue she has always deserved,” writes David Allen in Friday’s (10/8) New York Times. “ ‘The symphonies and the overtures should hold a similar place as Schumann and Mendelssohn,’ said Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who conducted Farrenc’s Second Symphony this summer with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and leads her Third with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal on Oct. 29…. Scholarly attention to Farrenc remains meager in English, with no full biography appearing since Bea Friedland’s in 1980…. She has enjoyed little in the way of persistent academic advocacy. But much of the chamber music in which Farrenc excelled has been recorded, including her sonatas, piano trios and famous Nonet, the success of which in 1850 led her to demand, and receive, equal pay on the faculty of the Paris Conservatory, where she had become the first female professor in 1842…. Orchestras are turning to the three turbulent symphonies Farrenc wrote in the 1840s, which achieved significant success [at the time]…. Farrenc is an absence no more.”