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Dimensions of Piano Playing

Many good pianists have been introduced recently in several concerts, but then, Sontraud Speidel came to the Baden Museum as a guest of the Werner Trenkner Society, and made all of them fall into oblivion. 150 years ago, notwithstanding her virtuosity it would not be easy for her to have great success, because music-making and composing women were suspect in society. Even an artist like Fanny Mendelssohn was prepared by her father to her duty as a wife and mother. Only when marrying the court's painter Wilhelm Hensel, could she unfold her musical talent. Professor Sontraud Speidel played works by women, a field that enables many discoveries even today. Although Robert Schumann required that his wife Clara would be content with "her main job as mother", he cared for the printing of the brilliant pianist's few compositions. The large audience in the Meistermann Hall experienced much more than a piano recital: it was a highly interesting lesson about piano playing, as Sontraud Speidel introduced many compositions in brief extracts. She compared and discovered resemblances, and she related facts about the female composers and their time: in a word, it was an event. People in the audience completely forget the virtuosity, because the multiple prize-winning pianist does not put on airs. She plays her program by heart with the most matter of course, with a clarity and purity of piano playing that is found only greatest artists, and Sontraud Speidel is of course one of them. Two of the great female composers of the 19th century, are also Maria Szymanowski from Poland, and Anna Weiss, the German mother of the great pianist and composer Ferrucio Busoni. The happiest time of Fanny Hensel's life was her long stay in Italy. After her sudden death aged only 42, the strong symbiosis with her renowned brother Felix became obvious, when he passed away only a half year later. Sontraud Speidel was justifiably jubilant at the conclusion, and she expressed her appreciation by playing two encores.

(wgu), Solinger Morgenpost, April 4, 2006

Translation: Dr. Jürgen Rodeland, John Nisbet