Teresa Carreño: 5 things you should know about the remarkable pianist and composer

She performed for two US presidents at the White House during her lifetime

Chelsea Ritschel
Friday 21 December 2018 19:55 GMT
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Teresa Carreño: 5 things you should know about the remarkable pianist and composer

Google is remembering the life and incredible musical talent of Teresa Carreño with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 165th birthday.

María Teresa Carreño García de Sena was born in Caracas, Venezuela on December 22 1853 into a musical family - who would teach her to play the piano when she was just six.

In the next few years of her life, Carreño’s abilities made her famous in her own right - and marked the beginning of what would turn into a lasting legacy.

These are five things you need to know about Teresa Carreño.

1. After moving to New York City in 1862, Carreño performed her debut concert at the age of nine at Irving Hall, where she performed a Rondo Brillant, Op 98.

Carreño was given the opportunity to perform concerts after American pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk heard her play and offered to teach her upon her arrival in New York.

Following the successful performance, Carreño embarked on her first concert tour in Cuba.

2. At the age of nine, Carreño performed for President Abraham Lincoln at the White House, and 53 years later, she performed at the White House again for President Woodrow Wilson.

In a letter she wrote following the performance in the fall of 1863, Carreño described the president and his family as “so very nice” that she forgot to be nervous about her performance.

“My self-consciousness all returned, however, when Mrs Lincoln asked me if I would like to try the White House grand piano,” she recalled.

3. During her lifetime, Carreño composed approximately 75 works.

After studying in Paris for four years under the instruction of teachers such as Georges Mathias and Anton Rubenstein, Carreño went on to have her own impressive and illustrious career.

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Her works include the Venezuelan national anthem.

4. She could also sing opera

In 1872, during a tour in England with James Henry Mapleson’s opera company, Carreño was asked to fill in for an opera singer who could not perform.

Her performance was well-received and she later went on to study singing in America.

Together with her second husband, Giovanni Tagliapietra, the couple founded an opera company in Venezuela.

She would later marry twice more.

5. Her nickname was the “Valkyrie of the Piano”

While performing in Germany during 1889, Carreño was granted the nickname “The Walküre of the Piano” or the Valkyrie of the piano for her impressive abilities.

Carreño continued to perform until 1917, at which point she became ill during a tour in Cuba and returned to New York.

She died on June 12 1917 at the age of 63.

In the years since her death, Carreño has been remembered for her career starting as a child prodigy and lasting into adulthood.

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She is also remembered through the nonprofit Teresa Carreño International Piano competition in Miami, which recognises young musicians.

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