Marianne Martinez
(1744 - 1812)
Marianne Martinez was the daughter of a Spanish diplomat who lived in Vienna where she was born and raised - smack in the age of Haydn and Mozart, and soon to be Beethoven's. Vienna was the musical center of Europe, the most exciting place to be - and Marianne, properly connected and moving in the right circles, found herself at the center of it all!

The librettist and Viennese court poet Pietro Metastasio was a friend of the family and is said to have supervised her education, which included learning voice and composition lessons from Nicola Porpora (the Italian composer celebrated for his Recitatives) and the young Franz Joseph Haydn (who was himself a pupil of Porpora). It is said that Haydn (whose early composing years seemed to have been marked by indentured service) received three years' board and lodging in exchange for teaching the gifted Marianne who was then 10 years old. Teacher and pupil remained close for the rest of their lives, and inevitably there are traces of Haydn in her works.

She is unique in that she wrote more large-scale works than any woman composer of past centuries. Indeed she is best known for her symphonies and piano concertos, but her works, which number over 200, also include vocal works, sonatas, masses and a large oratorio. She was also acclaimed as a performing artist, and was named an honorary member of the Bologna Academia Filharmonica following a performance of her own work at a local church.

In her mature years she also founded a school for singing and held musical soirees at her home where she performed her own compositions and which Vienna's cultural elite attended. Indeed research findings suggest that Mozart was in constant attendance at her soirees, as was his nemesis Antonio Salieri. And it was at her salon, perhaps the most prestigious in Vienna at the time, that she is said to have played Mozart's four-hand piano sonatas with Mozart himself!