Agathe Backer Concert Etudes Op.11


Agathe Backer was born in Holmestrand in 1847, in a wealthy and art-loving home, as the second youngest of four sisters, all gifted in drawing and music. In 1857 she moved with her family to Christiania, where she studied with Otto Winther-Hjelm, Halfdan Kjerulf and Ludvig Mathias Lindeman. Between 1865-1867 she bacame a pupil of Theodor Kullak and studied composition under Richard Wuerst at the Akademie der Tonkunst in Berlin, where she lived together with her sister Harriet Backer.[1] There where she won fame with her interpretation of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto.

In 1868 she debuted with the then 26 year old Edvard Grieg as conductor of the Philharmonic Society.[1] A recommendation from Ole Bull opened for further studies with Hans von B├╝low in Florence later the same year.[n 1] In 1871 she played at the Gewandhaus in Leipsic, and so became a pupil of Franz Liszt in Weimar in 1873. In 1875 she was married to the celebrated singing teacher, Herr Grondahl of Christiania, and during the second half of the 1870s she built up an outstanding pianist career with a series of concerts in the Nordic countries and played with very great success in London and Paris.

In 1889 and 1890 she gave concerts in London and Birmingham with a wide-ranging program, including Grieg's piano concerto.[1] After that she was proclaimed one of the century's greatest piano artists by the UK's brightest music critic and writer George Bernard Shaw. At the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889, she did likewise with her brilliant interpretation of Grieg's piano concerto.[1] It was then that she began suffering from nerve problems and eventually resumed her artistic career as a pianist. Later in the 1890s she became almost completely deaf. Her last concert she gave in Sweden and Finland in the of autumn 1901. Then she retired to teaching.

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