Obscure Music Monday: Mayer's Notturno
Emilie Luise Friderica Mayer (May 14, 1812 - April 10, 1883) was a German composer of Romantic music. While she studied music growing up, it was nothing serious. It wasn't until 1840 when her father died that she took music and composing seriously; she moved to Stettin to study with Carl Loewe, and then later moved to Berlin to study with Adolph Bernhard Max and Wilhelm Wieprecht. Later on in life she became the Associate Director of the Opera Academy in Berlin.
Mayer wrote for many different genres; orchestral overtures, symphonies, lieder, chamber works, and a few works for violin and piano, including Notturno, which was actually her last composition. Dedicated to the great violinist Joseph Joachim, this dark and elegant piece begins with just the piano, with a solemn theme, and the violin follows with the shortest line, ever so quietly, before opening up to the full theme a few bars later. This composition is not a showpiece; there are no dizzying runs or fanciful technique, but instead there's a strong commitment to strong melodic work and lyricism. The pianist stays busies throughout, helping to create the dark background, with a particularly busy left hand. It's interesting to hear Mayer's harmonic work, as the the piece shifts tonalities so easily and smoothly. Where you think a resolution might be isn't quite so, making for an intriguing listening experience.
We've found a recording of this work for you to enjoy!