Maria Szymanowska—Pianist and Composer spotlights the achievements and celebrates the fascinating life of one of the first internationally renowned piano virtuosos of the early 19th century. A divorced mother of three, Szymanowska was a close friend of Goethe, Pushkin, and Mickiewicz, a colleague of Cherubini, Hummel and Field, and pianist at the Imperial Court at St. Petersburg. Her compositions, including virtuoso Etudes and Preludes and Polish dances such as the Polonaise and the Mazurka, undoubtedly influenced Chopin’s own development as pianist and composer.
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Lionized by the high society and favorably reviewed by leading journals of her day, Szymanowska traveled widely from her native Warsaw, spending considerable time in Paris, London, Weimar, Moscow and St. Petersburg in addition to forays in Italy and visits to fashionable spas of Germany. Szymanowska was also a dedicated collector of autographs. Her unique Sztambuchy [Notebooks], with illustrations, inscriptions, letters, and musical works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Clementi, Field, Haydn, Handel, Hummel, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Paganini, Rossini, Salieri, and Robert and Clara Schumann, testify to the breadth and scope of this unique personage in the history of Polish music.