A musical toast to the Top Ten Classical Mothers
With Mother’s Day celebrated this weekend, I thought it appropriate to take a look at musical mothers.
George Frideric Handel’s father wanted him to become a lawyer. Young George had different ideas, hiding a clavichord in the attic so he could practice. Handel’s mother, Dorothea, surely knew what was going on, but kept, well, mum.
Stories about Franz Joseph Haydn seem to always begin, “He was the son of a wheelwright,” but there was much more to Haydn’s family than that. Unlike Handel, Haydn was encouraged in music. His father played the harp, while Haydn’s mother sang the melodies.
After the death of Erik Satie’s mother, his father remarried. His step-mom Eugénie Barnetsche (a composer, pianist, and music teacher) and young Erik did not get along. She enrolled him in the Paris Conservatoire which he did not like, staying only to avoid military service. He also didn’t like studying, so he was kicked out, which meant he would soon be in the army. He got discharged by contracting bronchitis…on purpose. Satie wound up playing piano in the Chat Noir cabaret while continuing to study music on his own terms. Erik, you should have listened to your step-mom.
Wolfgang Amadeus’ mother went with him to Paris so Wolfgang could search for a higher paying job. His mother would become deathly ill and die while in Paris, leaving Mozart to fend for himself. Who knows what Mozart’s professional path would have been if his mother had been around.
Mother’s pop up often in music. Dvorak’s Songs my Mother Taught Me and Mascagni’s Mamma quel vino e generoso from Cavalleria Rusticana, to name a couple. Here’s a list of the Top Ten Classical Mothers as compiled by Limelight Magazine.
Read Top Ten Classical Mothers (Limelight Magazine)