Tag Archives: Eissler Marianne

Article: A Quick Chat With the Eissler Sisters

For whatever reason, musical talent often runs in families. Look at Lady Hallè, who was born into a family of prodigies – or the sisters Teresa and Maria Milanollo – or, nowadays, siblings Scott and Lara St. John. The Eissler sisters were two prominent Victorian sibling musicians. Clara was a harpist and Marianne a violinist. Here is a short excerpt from an article entitled “Moments with Modern Musicians” by F. Klickmann that appeared in early 1896 in The Windsor Magazine.


…Our final moments are to be spent with those two clever musicians the Misses Eissler. Like Herr Stavenhagen they are not natives of our foggy land, but unlike him they have made a permanent home with us. This is the more singular seeing that both the sisters hold official appointments at a foreign Court, Miss Clara Eissler being Court Harpist and Miss Marianne Eissler Court Violinist to the Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. When State functions require their attendance, the sisters take a journey abroad to fulfil their engagements, after which they return to their home in Redcliffe Square.

It was in Miss Clara Eissler’s boudoir that I first heard the story of their earlier years. I had been wandering around the room looking at the innumerable portraits of the ever youthful Madame Adelina Patti. To no one are they more attached than to the prima donna, and, there is no lack of evidence – if one may judge by the inscriptions on the photographs – that the affection is mutual. Another photo that also attracted my attention was of a bright-faced happy-looking boy in a sailor suit. It bore an inscription, written in a round schoolboy hand – “Alfred, 1887.” When I commented upon this I was shown a diamond and sapphire ring that had been presented to Miss Marianne Eissler by the royal parents of the little sailor boy. Inside the ring is engraved, “From the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.”

This Misses Eissler are natives of Brünn, Moravia – a town already famous in the annals of violinists. Ernst was born there, also Wilhelmina Neruda (now Lady Hallé) and her brother Franz Neruda, the ‘cellist.

Herr Eissler was a professor of science at the Brünn University. On his death however Madame Eissler removed to Vienna, in order that her daughters might have greater musical advantages than was possible in Brünn.

“How was it that you made the harp your specialty?” I inquired of Miss Clara Eissler, after examining the exquisite instrument that had been made for her by Messrs. Erard.

“When I was ever so small I used to be taken to the concerts at the Vienna Conservatoire, where my sisters were studying, and the harp always fascinated me greatly. I made up my mind that if ever I played anything it must be the harp. At last they agreed that I should at any rate try what I could do with it, and when I was seven years old I likewise became a student at the Conservatoire and was placed under Zamara. Later on I studied under Hasselmans in Paris.”

“Seven years old seems very young to enter a Conservatoire,” I remarked.

“No, I think not. My sister Marianne began her studies at Vienna when she was the same age. By the way, it was rather curious that her first master at the Conservatoire was Professor Heissler.”

Our conversation was interrupted by the appearance of the young violinist herself, who had just returned from fulfilling an engagement at an afternoon concert. At my request she exhibited her beautiful “Carlo Bergonzi” violin, which bears the date 1732. This violin cost £400, and was presented to her by her friends in London. Violin collecting is a pardonable weakness in which Miss Marianne Eissler indulges; her partiality for autographs is a less expensive pursuit, however.

Miss Clara Eissler – who has a most artistic eye for such matters – finds her chief delight in arranging furniture and generally beautifying the home, while her favourite pastime is playing billiards.

The sisters have the highest regard for the musical ability of our royal family.

“I have heard that her Majesty takes a great interest in the music that is performed before her,” I said.

“Yes, and not only the Queen but likewise the princes and princesses,” Miss Clara Eissler replied. “On one occasion when my sister was playing at a concert in Portsmouth the Duke of Edinburgh came into the artists’ room and shook hands with her, and said how much he had enjoyed her playing, adding, ‘I have heard you play that solo before,’ and he mentioned the occasion on which she had previously played it. It is surprising how they can possibly remember trivial things like that, and yet they do.”

“You have often played before the Queen?”

“Yes we have played before her Majesty on several occasions. Once she honoured us so far as to command an encore.”

Our musical chat was finally broken up by Tristan – a terrier belonging to the harpist – who noisily demanded to be admitted to his mistress’s domain without further delay. The rest of our time we employed in trying to induce that quadruped to perform certain tricks in view of a prospective piece of sugar. But he was a superior dog and declined to sell his genius to so base an end – though he ultimately ate the sugar with little compunction.

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Works Associated With Female Violinists

An ever-evolving list. Last updated 24 February 2012.



Atterberg, Kurt – Violin Concerto – Premiere given by Alma Moodie (1919)

Barber – Violin Concerto – UK premiere given by Eda Kersey in 1943; revised version of the score that violinists use today premiered by Ruth Posselt in 1949

Bartók – Violin Concerto No. 1 – Written for his first love, virtuosa Stefi Geyer

Bartók – Violin Sonata No. 1 and No. 2 (Sz 75 and 76) – There is some question as to whether these works were dedicated to Adila Fachiri or Jelly d’Aranyi; the latter performed them with the composer in London in 1922 and 1923, respectively.

Bax – Violin Concerto – Premiered by Eda Kersey in 1943

Beach, Amy – Romance – Written for and premiered by Maud Powell in 1895

Benjamin, Arthur – Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra – Premiered by Eda Kersey in 1938

Coleridge-Taylor – Violin Concerto – Dedicated to and premiered by Maud Powell in 1912

Copland – Violin Sonata – Premiered by Ruth Posselt with Copland at the piano in 1944

Conus – Violin Concerto in e-minor – American premiere given by Maud Powell

Delius – Violin Sonata No 3 – Dedicated to May Harrison

Delius – Double Concerto (for violin and cello) – Premiered by sisters May and Beatrice Harrison in 1920

Dukelsky, Vladimir – Violin Concerto – Premiered by Ruth Posselt in 1943

Dvořák – Violin Concerto – American premiere given by Maud Powell in 1893

Eichberg, Julius – Dedicated six parlor pieces to six of his most famous female students – find them here

Elgar – Violin Concerto – First played through in private performance with Lady Leonora Speyer on violin; first recording made by Marie Hall in 1916

Erdmann, Eduard – Sonata for Solo Violin, op 12 – Dedicated to Alma Moodie

Gade, Niels – Violin Sonata No. 3 – Dedicated to Wilma Norman-Neruda in 1885

Hindemith – Violin Concerto – New York premiere made by Ruth Posselt in 1941

Hill, Edward Burlingame – Violin Concerto – premiered by Ruth Posselt in 1939

Holst – Concerto for Two Violins – Written for sisters Jelly d’Aranyi and Adila Fachiri in 1930

Hubay – Violin Concerto No. 4 – Dedicated to his student Stefi Geyer in 1908

Krenek, Ernst – Sonata for Solo Violin – Dedicated to Alma Moodie in 1924

Moeran, Ernest John – Violin Sonata – Premiered by Eda Kersey in 1923

Mozart – Sonata in B-flat, K 454 – Written for and premiered by Regina Strinasacchi Schlick in 1784

Pfitzner, Hans – Violin Concerto, op 34 – Dedicated to and premiered by Alma Moodie in 1923

Piston, Walter – Violin Concerto No. 1 – Written for and premiered by Ruth Posselt in 1940

Poulenc – Violin Sonata – Written for and premiered by Ginette Neveu in 1943

Prokofiev – Five Melodies; the third is dedicated to violinist Cecilia Hansen

Ravel – Violin Sonata – Dedicated to Hélène Jourdan-Morhange in 1922

Ravel – Sonata for Violin and Cello – Premiered by Hélène Jourdan-Morhange on violin in 1922

Ravel – Tzigane – Written for, dedicated to, and premiered by Jelly d’Aranyi in 1924

Saint-Saëns – Fantasie for violin and harp, op 124 – Dedicated to Clara and Marianne Eissler (Clara was a harpist; Marianne a violinist) in 1907

Sarasate – Romanza Andaluza; Jota Navarra – Dedicated to Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé) in 1878

Schoeck, Othmar – Violin Concerto – Written for Stefi Geyer in 1910-11

Schoeck, Othmar – Violin Sonata No. 1 – Written for Stefi Geyer in 1908-9

Schumann – Violin Concerto – Joachim’s grand-nieces, Jelly d’Aranyi and Adila Fachiri, received word of the manuscript in a séance with Joachim. d’Aranyi played the London premiere in late 1937 or early 1938.

Scott, Cyril – Danse from Deux preludes – Dedicated to Daisy Kennedy in 1912

Scott, Cyril – Violin Sonata No. 1 – Dedicated to and premiered by Ethel Barns in 1908

Sibelius – Violin Concerto – Maud Powell premiered this piece in America in 1906

Stravinsky – “Suite from themes, fragments, and pieces by Pergolesi” – Premiered by Alma Moodie (and Stravinsky) in 1925

Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto – American premiere given by Maud Powell in 1889

Vaughan-Williams – The Lark Ascending – Written for Marie Hall in 1914

Vaughan-Williams – Concerto Academico – Dedicated to Jelly d’Aranyi in 1925

Vivaldi – His work was played by women performers at his school Ospedale della Pietà in the early 1700s

Vivaldi – Violin concertos RV 387, 343, 229, 349, 248, 366 – Vivaldi wrote these six violin concertos especially for his protege Anna Maria della Pietà (I don’t believe they are available in a modern edition, but I could be wrong on this; you can see the manuscripts for some of them on IMSLP). Apparently he wrote even more for her but I can’t figure out which ones they were. Research fail. But I’ll get on that, ASAP.

Wieniawski – Gigue, Op. 23 – Dedicated to Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé) in 1880

Wieniawski – Capriccio Valse, Op 7 – Dedicated to Adalbert Wilkoszerwski and Teresa Milanollo in 1854

Wilson, Stanley – Violin Concerto – Premiered by Eda Kersey in 1930

Wolf-Ferrari, Ermanno – Violin Concerto – Written for Guila Bustabo in 1946



Bach – Double Concerto for Two Violins – Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé) and Joseph Joachim performed this together in London

Beethoven – Kreutzer Sonata – played by Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé) and her husband Charles Hallé in South Africa; their performance was so successful that after it was over, the concert was adjourned

De Beriot – Airs Variée – (don’t know which one) – Performed by Camilla Urso as a child at her recital debut

Beethoven – Violin Concerto – Maud Powell played it with Gustav Mahler on the podium in 1909

Brahms – Violin Concerto – played by Marie Soldat, a friend of Brahms’s; Brahms helped her find her del Gesù violin, which is now being played by Rachel Barton Pine; Gabriele Wietrowitz also played it to great acclaim

Bruch – Violin Concerto No 1 – Maud Powell made her New York Philharmonic debut with it; Teresina Tua made her American debut with it

Elgar – Violin Concerto – First played through in private performance with Lady Leonora Speyer on violin; first recording made by Marie Hall

Elgar – Violin Sonata – After playing it through with his last love Vera Hockman, he referred to it as “our sonata”

Fauré – Violin Sonata in A-major – Lady Leonora Speyer played it with Fauré on the piano in 1909

Grieg – Violin Sonata in c-minor – Inspired by Teresina Tua; played by Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé) with the composer at the piano

Ives – Violin Sonata No. 2 – Patricia Travers made the first complete recording in 1951

Neruda, Franz – Berceuse Slave, op. 11 – Played by Franz’s sister, the famous virtuosa Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé)

Ravel – Piano Trio – Ravel met his friend and muse Hélène Jourdan-Morhange for the first time when he saw her in a performance of this work

Rode – Violin Concerto No. 4 – According to the Victorian book Camilla: A Tale of a Violin, Camilla Urso played the second and third movements of this piece as her audition for the Paris Conservatoire at the age of seven.

Strauss – Violin Sonata – Leonora von Stosch (later Lady Speyer) played this with Strauss at the piano in the summer of 1914, right on the eve of WWI

Vieuxtemps – Ballade and Polonaise – Teresina Tua often played this piece in concerts in Europe and America

Vieuxtemps – Yankee Doodle Variations – Played by Wilma Norman-Neruda (later Lady Hallé) as a child when she made her debut in England

Vieuxtemps – Fantasie-Caprice op 11 – Marie Soldat made her debut with this piece

 Wieniawski – Kujawiack (Mazurka) – to the best of our knowledge, the first piece a female violinist ever recorded (Dora Valesca Backer / Baker / Becker, 1898, available on Youtube)



Barns, Ethel – Violin Concertos – Violinist, pianist, and composer Ethel Barns wrote at least two violin concertos and many other pieces. Unfortunately the scores are difficult to find today.

Amanda Maier (alternately, Amanda Röntgen-Maier) – Violin Sonata – Maier, a friend of Brahms and Grieg, wrote this lovely sonata in 1874.

Maddalena Laura Sirmen – Duo for 2 Violins in C-major – written by one of the first professional female violinists

Maddalena Laura Sirmen – wrote six violin concertos; one was praised by Leopold Mozart as being “beautifully written” in a letter to his son in 1778

*Note that Maud Powell arranged many pieces and had many more dedicated to her. Thanks to the work of the Maud Powell Society and Rachel Barton Pine, these pieces have been resurrected. If you are interested, visit the Maud Powell Society’s website for more information.


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