Obscure Music Monday: Menter's Mazurka
Sophie Menter (July 29, 1846 - Feb. 23, 1918) was a German pianist and composer, born to musical parents. At the age of fifteen she soloed with an orchestra, and her concertizing after that took her all around Germany and Switzerland.Menter would go on to be known for her interpretations of Franz Liszt's compositions, and she actually studied with him in 1869, after studying with other famous pianists like Carl Tausig and Hans von Bulow. Liszt described her as "my only piano daughter", and her playing was loved by critics and audience members alike. She became professor of piano at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1883, but left just three years after to continue concertizing. She also started composing for piano, but considered her compositional talent "miserable".
We happen to strongly disagree with that assessment---she wrote wonderful works for the piano, including a wonderful Mazurka. A mazurka is a Polish dance usually in three, with beats two and three often accented, which you will hear in this work. Written in minor, the beginning has a darker, more serious tone, but soon opens up to some cheerful, grand waltz sections, and some sparkling 16th notes in the right hand, with the work then returning to its original theme. After listening, you may scratch your head and wonder why she thought she was a miserable composer. This is an engaging work for both listener and pianist!
We can't find any recordings of this work currently, but we hope that changes soon!