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PAULINE FICHTNER-ERDMANNSDÖRFER - PIANIST

Scarce verso autographed Löwy of Vienna carte de visite photograph of the Austrian piano virtuoso inscribed to the Czech violinist and conductor Josef Rebicek, June 20, 1871.  She writes; My dear friend Concertmaster Rebicek with the closest wishes of your colleague, Pauline F. the 20th of June, 871.

Fichtner (1847-1916) was born in Vienna and due to the untimely passing of her mother was raised by an Aunt.  Adopted, she took their last name Fichtner.  A precocious musician she began her studies with Matthais Weitz, moving on to the local piano school of Eduard Pinkhert.  Fichtner also studied singing with the great Vienna Hofoper soprano Marie Wilt and acted as her concert accompanist.  She also studied composition with the Hoforchester Kapellmeister Otto Dessoff.  She made her recital debut at 16 at the Wiener Musikverein was on November 27, 1864.  Her initial concert did not gain the praise she sought, however, over the next few years she developed her technique until she received the ultimate praise of “masterly technique and noble conception” after a performance with the Vienna Philharmonic of Chopin’s 1st concerto in 1967.  She began to tour significantly that year with recitals and concerts with orchestra in Odessa, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Czernowitz and Graz.  In 1869 she toured, Halle, Leipzig, Pest, Prague and Gmunden. In Leipzig she played in a Clara Schumann produced concert at the Gewandhaus, playing the Beethoven Emperor concerto, followed by solo works of Chopin and Rubinstein. The programming was not to the critics liking.  By 1870 she was considered one of the finest pianists residing in Vienna.  That year she performed concerts in Vienna, Wiesbaden, Prague and Pest.  On her stop in Pest she met Liszt and performed for him and he immediately accepted her as a pupil.  She literally packed up her life and moved to Weimar where she studied with Liszt until 1874.  While with Liszt she continued to concertize throughout Europe building her reputation.  In 1873 she was awarded the title Grand Ducal Chamber Virtuoso and Weimar Chamber and Court Pianist.  She also received the Gold Medal of Merit for Science and Art from Pince Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen.  She left Liszt’s tutelage in 1874, marrying his pupil Max von Erdmannsdörfer the Kapellmeister of Sonderhausen.  When Liszt was honored by Bösendorfer at a banquet the same year, Fichtner played a 4 hand version of the march with him that he had written for Franz Josef’s Hungarian coronation in 1866. The press the next day said the way he honored her was the equivalent of an honorary diploma.  She gave a series of “farewell concerts” in Vienna that year announcing her retirement to support her husband’s career and to compose.  Silly as the next few years included recitals and concerts in Erns, Halle, Nuremberg, Mülhausen in 1874, Zürich, Hanover, Weimar, Erfurt, Munich, Baden,Baden in 1875, Hanover, Jena, Erfurt Halle and Plauen in 1876, Königsberg, Eisenach and Leipzig in 1877, Halle, Jena, Erfurt, Gera, Nuremberg, Bamberg and Erlagen in 1878, Leipzig and Arnstadt in 1879, Memel and Halle in 1880, Vienna and Dresden in 1881, Jena Leipzig, Dresden and Naumburg in 1882.  So much for her farewell!   At this point, when playing with orchestra it was generally under her husband’s baton and sometimes his latest works. After her Vienna concert in 1881 Hanslick applauded her “great advances in technical relationships, especially significant strength and endurance”. 

The couple moved to Moscow in 1882 where Erdmannsdörfer replaced Nikolai Rubinstein as head of the Imperial Russian Music Society.  It was during this time that she began to compose in earnest.  Her first works were published in 1870, however, she began to store up a rather large oeuvre of piano works.  She also became a close friend of Piotr Tchaikovsky, who also found their relationship important due to her husbands’ position. Her husband gave several important premieres of the composer’s works including the revised version of the 1st symphony and the World Premiere of the Manfred Symphony.  She did perform a few times in Moscow under her husband’s direction, the 2nd Liszt piano concerto, works by Raff, her husband and unspecified Tchaikovsky works.  They remained in Moscow until 1889 when they went to Bremen and in 1896 to Munich where he was Kapellmeister in both towns.  She began to perform with her husband quite often now favoring the works of Brahms and Raff.  Raff who at one time was Liszt’s major domo had dedicated his 1870 piano suite in G minor to her and his Fanatasie für 2 klavier to the couple in 1877.  Also fellow Liszt pupil Eugen D’Albert dedicated his 2nd piano concerto to her in 1893.  They remained in Munich for the rest of their lives.  Max was made a Bavarian noble in 1903, he passed away two years later.  Fichtner continued to teach in Munich and compose.  She left a rather large body of work mostly lieder, but also music for piano and piano-violin and a piano arrangement of Max Reger’s Waltz op. 22.

At the time Fichtner inscribed the photograph to Rebicek (1844-1904) he was the Concertmaster of the Wiesbaden Hoforchester and shared Music Director duties with Wilhelm Jahn at the Court Theatre.  At one time he had played in the Weimar Orchestra under Liszt.  Hismfirst concertmaster position was at the Prague German Theater.  He went to lead the Opera in Warsaw in 1883, then he was hired to fill the Budapest Royal Opera Music Director position when Mahler was forced out in 1891.  He went back to Wiesbaden where he shared conducting duties at the Court Opera until 1897 when he was hired by the Berlin Philharmonic as Music Director in 1897.  He remained the Music Director there until his death. 

 

 

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