Today in WMH: 1744–Marianne von Martines (also Marianne von Martinez) is born in Vienna. Of Spanish descent, she was an important figure in Austrian musical society. A well-placed family friend arranged for the young Marianne to take keyboard lessons from Franz Joseph Haydn. She also studied voice with Porpora while Haydn, himself, accompanied on the harpsichord. She performed both on keyboard and voice as a child at the Imperial court, and was a favorite of Empress Maria Theresa.
She also studied composition with Hasse and Bonno. Her surviving works include 2 oratorios, 4 masses, 6 motets, several cantats, 3 keyboard sonatas, 1 keyboard concerto and 1 symphony. We will never know the complete catalogue of her works, however, due to a fire that destroyed most of the manuscripts in 1927. Her works were so well regarded in her day that some suggest that Mozart’s Mass K. 139 was influenced by her works.
In later life, she became a patron of the arts, hosting musical parties along with her sister. Haydn and Mozart were known to have attended these events. Her status as a musician was ever complicated by the expectations of society and a woman’s place within the social strata. Though she was known as a composer and performer, she did not seek employment or a career in music. Though lauded in her day, after her death she was nearly forgotten.
Here is an example of her work. It’s worth discovering again!