Maddalena Laura Sirmen

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Maddalena Sirmen (9 December 1745 – 18 May 1818) was an Italian composer, violinist, and later unsuccessful singer.

Biography[edit]

Maddalena Laura Lombardini[1] was born in Venice to poverty-stricken parents, noble by birth. She began her studies at an orphanage that also taught music in Venice at the age of seven.

In her fourteen years of study at the orphanage, Lombardini was occasionally given permission to leave and study with the virtuoso violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692–1770), in the hope that she would develop the technical and emotional capacity demanded of an ambitious woman. Hoping to play the violin professionally in a European classical scene almost entirely dominated by men, Tartini paid her tuition himself for musical lessons at the orphanage.

At age twenty-one, Lombardini received her maestro license at the orphanage, and was given permission to pursue a musical career outside of Venice. In 1767 she married the renowned violinist Ludovico Sirmen.[2] The two began touring together that same year. Although little is documented about their relationship, it appears he encouraged Maddalena's career, respecting her compositions and relishing her successful solo career. Maddalena Sirmen soon established her reputation as one of the finest and most famous violinists and composers ever taught in a Venetian orphanage.

An early critical notice she received as an adult performer was from Quirino Gasparini, who wrote:

"She won the hearts of all the people of Turin with her playing . . . I wrote to old Tartini last Saturday telling him the good news. It will make him all the happier, since this student of his plays his violin compositions with such perfection that it is obvious she is his descendant".[3]

Maddalena Sirmen was perhaps an even more successful composer. The newlyweds performed in Paris on 15 August 1768, performing a double violin concerto which they co-wrote.

“The ‘Mercure de France’ speaks in glowing terms of M. and Mme Sirmen’s execution of a double violin concerto of their own composition." [1]

In 1771, she debuted her "Concerto on the Violin" in London, met by rave reviews and lavish support. Her compositions displayed the violin in all its virtuosic brilliance in the dynamic yet restrained early Classical tradition.

Sirmen visited London for a final time in 1772, performing as a vocalist and failing at that. Although her career withered and faded in its final years, she is remembered as a dynamic inventor and brilliant performer in 18th-century classical music.

Works[edit]

  • “Six Trios a deux violins et violoncello oblige”
  • “Six Quartettes a deux violins, alto, et basse”
  • “6 Duets for 2 violins, dedicated to the Duke of Gloucester”
  • “6 Concertos for violin with accompaniment for oboe, 2 horns & strings”
  • “Six Sonatas a deux violins”
  • “Six Concertos adapted for the Harpsichord by Signor Giordani”

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Blom, Vol. VII, 821
  2. ^ The surname is also seen as Syrmen or Ceriman; most of her compositions were published under the name Syrmen.
  3. ^ Pendle, 114

References[edit]

  • Blom, Eric ed.; Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th edition, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1954.
  • Bowers, Jane; Women Making Music. Indiana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.
  • Pendle, Karin; Women & Music: A History. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1991.

External links[edit]