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It's been a while since I did a catch-up post, so here's the one from January 20.

On the eve of the Women's March on Washington, it seems only appropriate to present a favorite piece by a woman composer, the B minor violin sonata by Amanda Maier (1853-1894).

Amanda Maier was, unusually for female composers of the era, a well-respected composer during her lifetime -- her music was performed by such illustrious names as Clara Schumann, Arthur Rubinstein, and Edvard Grieg. At the height of her fame, she was a celebrity in her home country of Sweden, with the press following her whereabouts and often reporting rumors about forthcoming compositions.

She was also a close friend and collaborator with Johannes Brahms, whom she met while studying in Leipzig and who was a frequent guest at her home in Amsterdam in the 1880s. The composition of Maier's violin sonata is in fact closely intertwined with Brahms's 3rd violin sonata; the two composers began their respective sonatas around the same time and sent one another early drafts for feedback. In recent years the two sonatas have occasionally been paired in recital programs and recordings -- and it's not hard to tell that they influenced one another! This is especially true of the final movements of the two sonatas.

Sadly, Maier's music was largely forgotten after her death in 1894; this sonata was not performed again until 1994, though it certainly deserves equal stature with Brahms's contemporary sonata.

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3

Just for comparison, here's Brahms's Violin Sonata No. 3, which was being worked on at the same time with the two composers exchanging feedback:


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