Marie Jaëll

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Marie Jaëll

Marie (Trautmann) Jaëll (17 August 1846 – 4 February 1925) was a French pianist, composer, and pedagogue. Marie Jaëll composed pieces for piano, concertos, quartets, and others,[3] She dedicated her cello concerto to Jules Delsart.[4] and was the first pianist to perform all the piano sonatas of Beethoven in Paris.[4] She did scientific studies of hand techniques in piano playing and attempted to replace traditional drilling with systematic piano methods.[5][6] Her students included Albert Schweitzer, who studied with her while also studying organ with Charles-Marie Widor in 1898-99.[7] She died in Paris.

Young Life & Education[edit]

Her father, the mayor of Steinseltz village in Alsace, France, and her mother, a lover of the arts, thought it seemed fit to nurture their daughter's musical talents through piano studies. Beginning piano studies at the age of six[1] and by seven, she was studying under piano pedagogues F.B. Hamma and Ignaz Moscheles in Stuttgart. Like many young prodigies, Marie's mother served as her advocate and manager. Just one year after she began lessons with Hamma and Moscheles, Marie expanded her resumé to include performing in Germany and Switzerland.[8]

In 1856, ten-year-old Marie was introduced to the revered piano teacher, Heinrich Herz, from the Paris Conservatory. Since she began her studies with Herz so young, Marie's parents delayed officially registering her at the Conservatory until 1862. After just four months as an official student at the Conservatory, she beat out twenty other young ladies by winning the Premier Prix, or First Prize of Piano. Her performances were recognized by the public and local newspapers; the Revue et Gazette musciale de Paris printed a particularly rave review of a performance by young Miss Trautmann on July 27, 1862 that reads: "She marked it [the piece] with the seal of her individual nature. Her higher mechanism, her beautiful style, her play deliciously moderate, with an irreproachable purity, an exquisite taste, a lofty elegance, constantly filled the audience with wonder."[9] Sixteen-year-old Marie had captured her audience.

On August 9, 1866, at twenty years of age, Marie married the concert pianist, Alfred Jaëll. She was then known variously as Marie Trautmann, Marie Jaëll, Marie Jaëll Trautmann or Marie Trautmann Jaëll. Alfred was fifteen years older than Marie and had been a student of Chopin; he too was a virtuoso, yet his name and performances were known around the world. The husband and wife team reinvented themselves; the couple performed popular pieces, duos, solos, and even compositions of their own throughout Europe and Russia. As a pianist, Marie specialized in the music of Schumann, Liszt, and Beethoven. In fact, the dynamic duo tackled the task of transcribing Beethoven's "Marcia alla Turca Athens Ruins" for piano; the score was successfully published in 1872.

Her husband, Alfred, was able to use his success and fame to help Marie rub elbows with various composers and performers throughout their travels. In 1868, Marie met the beloved composer and pianist Franz Liszt. A record of Liszt's comments about Marie survives in an article published in the American Record Guide: "[Marie Jaëll] has the brains of a philosopher and the fingers of an artist." In order to expand Marie's network, Liszt introduced Marie to other great composers and performers of the day—for example, Johannes Brahms and Anton Rubinstein. By 1871, only a few years after making Liszt's acquaintance, Marie's compositions began to be published.

With the death of her husband in 1881, Marie had to opportunity to study with Liszt in Weimar, Germany and with Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck in Paris, France. Liszt took Marie on as a mentor. Liszt introduced her to Johannes Brahms and Anton Rubinstein. She also had composition lessons with César Franck and Camille Saint-Saëns, who dedicated his Piano Concerto No. 1 and the "Étude en forme de valse" to her.[4][10] Saint-Saëns thought highly enough of Marie to introduce her to the Society of Music Composers—a great honor for women in those days.[11]

Compositions & Reviews[edit]

Marie's compositional style was French romantic. An article from the New Groves Dictionary of Music points out that Marie "composed piano pieces and songs which, though essentially Romantic, reveal an assimilation of the innovations of the time."[12] American Record Guide lists Marie's compositional approach as "romantic in style, with more flavor of the salon than the concert hall."[13]

Marie was well respected, both as a performer and a composer, by her contemporaries. Liszt premiered her waltz for piano for four hands, "Valses pour piano á quatre mains" Op. 8. Piano pieces for four hands seemed to be dear to her heart. One article, by Lea Schmidt-Roger, states, "Four-handed literature was as much a part of Jaëll's repertory as solo literature. She concertized with duo piano and four-handed pieces from the age of fourteen, and later she and husband Alfred transcribed and performed much of the contemporary four-handed literature."[1]

Marie drew inspiration for her piece "Harmonies of Alsace" from her pleasant childhood memories while growing up in Alsace. She wrote pieces for cello, piano, orchestra, quartets, etc. Marie's variety of compositions extended to a symphonic poem, "Ossiane," which was based on the poems of Jean Richepin and Victor Hugo. Vocal pieces began to creep into her list of compositions; she even wrote an opera entitled, "Runea."[11]

Physiology Research & Jaëll Teaching Method[edit]

After struggling with tendonitis, Jaëll began to study neuroscience. The strain on her playing and performing were significant enough that critics even wrote harsh reviews of her performances; her solution became researching physiology. Jaëll studied a wide variety of subjects that pertained to the functioning of the body, like anatomy, chemistry, physiology, mathematics, and physics. Her studies also ventured into psychology: "She wanted to combine the emotional and spiritual act of creating beautiful music with the physiological aspects of tactile, additive, and visual sensory." [11] The age of industrialization encouraged a broader acceptance of brain and nervous system research.

Dr. Charles Féré assisted Jaëll in her research of physiology. Her studies included how music effects the connection between mind and body, as well as, how to apply this knowledge to intelligence and sensitivity in teaching music. Liszt's music had such a tremendous influence on Jaëll that she sought to gain as much insight into his methods and techniques as possible. This research and study lead to Jaëll creating her own teaching method based on her findings.

Jaëll's teaching method was known as the 'Jaëll Method'. Her method was created through a process of trial and error with herself and her students. Jaëll's goal was for her students to feel a deep connection to the piano. An eleven book series on piano technique resulted from her research and experience. Piano pedagogues have since drawn insight into teaching techniques of the hand from her method and books. In fact, her method is still in use today.

As a result of her studies, Jaëll was able to compile her extensive research into a technique book entitled, "L'intelligence et le rythme dans les mouvements artistiques." This text is used by pianists and piano pedagogues as a reference, specifically with hand position and playing techniques.

List of Compositions[1][edit]

• Am Grabe eines Kindes - 3 choirs.

• Ce qu'on entend dans l'Enfer, le Purgatoire

• Le Paradis - large work for piano.

• Concerto en r‚ mineur - piano and orchestra, dedicated to Saint-Saëns.

• Concerto en ut mineur - piano and orchestra, dedicated to Eugene d'Albert.

• Harmonies d'Alsace - orchestra.

• Impromptu, 2 Meditations, 6 Petits morceaux, 10 Bagatelles - intermediate pieces for the piano.

• La Légende des Ours - soprano and piano.

• Les Orientales - voice.

• Ossiane - voice and orchestra.

• Psalm LXV - choir in four parts, dedicated to Monsieur Alfred Jaëll, unpublished.

• Runea - opera.

• Sonate pour violon.

• Sphinx for piano, dedicated to Saint-Saëns, published in 1885.

• Sur la tombe d'un enfant - chorus and orchestra.

• Valses pour piano á quatre mains, Op. 8 - piano four-hands.

• Valses Mélancoliques and Valses Mignonnes - solo pieces for intermediate piano.

• Voix du Printemps - piano four-hands.


Le toucher, enseignement du piano … basé sur la physiologie (Paris, 1895)

La musique et la psychophysiologie (Paris, 1896)

Le mécanisme du toucher (Paris, 1897)

Les rythmes du regard et la dissociation des doigts (Paris, 1901)

L’intelligence et le rythme dans les mouvements artistiques (Paris, 1904)

Un nouvel état de conscience: la coloration des sensations tactiles (Paris, 1910)

La résonance du toucher et la topographie des pulpes (Paris, 1912)

Nouvel enseignement musical et manuel basé sur la découverte des boussoles tonales (Paris, 1922)

Le toucher musical par l’éducation de la main (Paris, 1927)

La main et la pensée musicale (Paris, 1927)


  1. ^ a b c d Schmidt-Roger, Lea. "Condensed Introduction to The Life and Work of the French Composer Marie Jaëll." Accessed Dec. 2014.
  2. ^ Leuchtmann, Horst and Charles Timbrell. "Jaëll, Marie." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 15, 2014,
  3. ^ Marie Jaëll Exhibit - Strasbourg
  4. ^ a b c "Jaëll Marie / née Trautmann (1846 - 1925)" (in French). Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Leuchtmann/Timbrel, "Marie Jaell". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London, Macmillan, 2001.
  6. ^ Marie Jaëll: The Magic Touch, Piano Music by Mind Training, by C. Guichard (Algora, New-York, 2004, 216 p.)
  7. ^ George N. Marshall, David Poling: Schweitzer
  8. ^ "Marie Trautmann Jaëll." In 'Encyclopedia of World Biography,' Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Accessed Sept. 2014.
  9. ^ "Marie Trautmann Jaëll." 'In Encyclopedia of World Biography,' Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Accessed Sept. 2014.
  10. ^ Marie Trautmann Jaëll
  11. ^ a b c "Marie Trautmann Jaëll." In 'Encyclopedia of World Biography,' Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Accessed Sept. 2014.
  12. ^ "Marie Trautmann Jaëll." In 'Encyclopedia of World Biography,' Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Accessed Sept. 2014.
  13. ^ "Marie Trautmann Jaëll." In Encyclopedia of World Biography, Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Accessed Sept. 2014. failOverType=&query=&prodld=BIC1&action=e&catld=&activityType=scanld=&documentld=GALE%7CK1631008349&source=Bookmark&u=butleru&jsid=ca5bc552d2526a8dfe7645003ac917de
  14. ^ Leuchtmann, Horst and Charles Timbrell. "Jaëll, Marie." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 15, 2014,

Additional Sources[1]

• Briscoe, James R., ed. "Historical Anthology of Music by Women." Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987.

• Chantavoine, Jean. "Lettres de Liszt - Marie et Alfred Jaëll," Revue internationale de Musique, 1952.

• Cooper, Grosvenor W. and Leonard B. Meyer. "The Rhythmic Structure of Music." Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971.

• Friedland, Bea. "Louise Farrenc." 1804-1875 Composer, Performer, Scholar. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1980.

• Jaëll, Marie. "La musique et la psychophysiologie." Paris: Alcan, 1896; reprint ed., Paris: Association Marie Jaëll, 1983.

• Kiener, Hêlêne. "Marie Jaëll, Problêmes d'esthétique et de pédagogie musicales." Nantes: Editions de l'Arche, 1989.

• Pendle, Karin, ed. "Women and Music." Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

• Stegemann, Michael. "Camille Saint-Saèns and the French Solo Concerto. Trans. by Ann C. Sherwin. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1984.

• Uszler, Marienne, Stewart Gordon and Elyse Mach. "The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher." New York: Schirmer Books, 1991. • Wright, Gordon. "France in Modern Times." Fourth Edition. New York: Norton, 1987.

• Ziloti, Alexander. "Moy vospomenaneya a Franz Liszt." Trans. into English, 1913, St. Petersburg.

• Marie Jaëll. "Cahiers de travail." 32 volumes, 1882-1906, Marie Jaëll's Journals.

• Bibliothéque Nationale et Universitaire, Strasbourg, France.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Schmidt-Roger, Lea. "Condensed Introduction to The Life and Work of the French Composer Marie Jaëll." Accessed Dec. 2014.