My blog post today continues the series examining British female pianists and teachers. The lady in the spotlight last week was Mathilde Verne and this week her sister, Adela is receiving the star treatment!
Adela Verne was born in 1877 and was an important English pianist and composer of German descent. She was considered one of the foremost female pianists of her generation and she frequently toured the world playing in all the major concert halls. Adela was born into a very musical family (she had nine siblings altogether) and three of her sisters were also notable pianists or composers: Mathilde, Alice and Mary (Mathilde and Alice (like Adela) adopted the surname Verne, whereas Mary kept the family’s original surname, Wurm).
Clara Schumann heard Adela play when she was a small girl and was so impressed that she wanted to take her to Frankfurt for study, as she had done with Mathilde, however her parents would not permit this. Instead, she was instructed by Mathilde and Alice, and later by Clara Schumann’s daughter Marie Schumann.
At age 13 she made her debut with Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, conducted by Sir August Manns at the Crystal Palace concerts series. Tchaikovsky himself heard of this astonishing young prodigy and wanted to meet her. The following year she was introduced to Ignacy Jan Paderewski. He was so impressed with her playing that he predicted a great future for her and subsequently taught her at his home in Switzerland.
Adela Verne was hailed as the successor to Teresa Carreño, and was equally praised by North and South American, Australian, European and British audiences and critics. In Vienna, after hearing her play four concertos in one evening, Theodor Leschetizky gave her the rare honour of asking her to give a recital to his own pupils.
Her wide repertoire included a large amount from the 18th and 19th centuries, but also much from the 20th century. She often appeared in chamber music recitals at the St James’s Hall concerts, alongside artists such as the violinist Joseph Joachim and the cellist Alfredo Piatti.
She toured Australia with Dame Nellie Melba, and was associated with other singers such as Luisa Tetrazzini, Amelita Galli-Curci and John McCormack, and violinists such as Mischa Elman, Eugène Ysaÿe amongst others. She appeared regularly at the Proms, and was the first British artist to give a solo recital at the Royal Albert Hall.
Adela was the first woman in England to play the Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto in B flat major; it had previously been considered too demanding for women! She gave the first performance of the Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 (B flat minor) in Australia, the first performance in the United Kingdom of César Franck’s Symphonic Variations and the first television performance of Mozart’s Concerto for 2 Pianos, with her son John Vallier, also a noted pianist and composer.
In 1952 she broadcast a special programme of works by Paderewski for the BBC and her last public appearance was at the special Jubilee Concerts celebrating the Wigmore Hall. She was preparing for her first recital at London’s new Royal Festival Hall, when she died, on 5 February 1952, aged 74.
She also composed a variety of works, including a Military March dedicated to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother; her sister Mathilde’s pupil).
Main Source: Wikipedia
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.