Maria Theresia Von Paradis
1759 - 1824
Maria Theresia von Paradis (May 15, 1759 – February 1, 1824) was an Austrian musician and composer who lost her sight at an early age, and for whom her close friend Mozart may have written his Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat major. She was also in contact with Salieri, Haydn, and Gluck.
Paradis was the daughter of Joseph Anton von Paradis, Imperial Secretary of Commerce and Court Councilor to the Empress Maria Theresa, for whom she was named. The Empress, however, was not her godmother, as was often believed. Between the ages of 2 and 5 she lost her eyesight.
By all accounts, Paradis had an excellent memory and exceptionally accurate hearing, as she was widely reported to have learned over sixty concertos by heart, as well as a large repertoire of solo and religious works.
In 1773 she was commissioned to perform an organ concerto by Antonio Salieri which survives but without its second movement. By 1775, Paradis was performing as a singer and pianist in various Viennese salons and concerts.
During her tour of Europe, Paradis began composing solo music for piano as well as pieces for voice and keyboard. The earliest music attributed to her is often cited as a set of four piano sonatas from about 1777, but these are really by Pietro Domenico Paradisi, to whom much of her music is often mistakenly attributed. Her earliest major work in existence is the collection Zwölf Lieder auf ihrer Reise in Musik gesetzt, composed between 1784 and 1786.
By the year 1789, Paradis was spending more time with composition than performance, as shown by the fact that from 1789 to 1797 she composed five operas and three cantatas. After the failure of the opera Rinaldo und Alcina from 1797, she shifted her energy more and more to teaching. In 1808, she founded her own music school in Vienna, where she taught singing, piano and theory to young girls. A Sunday concert series at this school featured the work of her outstanding pupils. She continued to teach up until her death in 1824.
When composing, she used a composition board invented by Riedinger, and for correspondence the hand-printing machine invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen. Her songs are mostly representative of the operatic style, which displays coloratura and trills. Salieri's influence may be seen in the dramatically composed scenes. Much of the stage work is modeled on the Viennese Singspiel style, while her piano works show a great influence by her teacher Leopold Kozeluch.
Biography taken from Wikipedia.