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two hundred and fifty years
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Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831)

Maria Szymanowska portrait by Alexander Kokular Symanowska was a Polish pianist and composer. She travelled widely after leaving a husband reluctant to allow her to pursue music professionally. In 1822 she was appointed court pianist to the Tsar of Russia in St Petersburg. She later toured extensively in Europe, commanding high ticket prices and playing to large audiences. Her sostenuto cantabile style of playing was considered an innovation on the fortepiano and her musical understanding was much applauded. She composed more than a hundred pieces, many of them short virtuoso works. Most were published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Hartel. Hummel and Field dedicated piano pieces to her. Goethe is said to have fallen madly in love with her. Critics described her as a musician who defined Romanticism in her compositions and her playing.

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Serenade. 1820
Andante. C major. Cello & piano, 5 mins
In lilting 6/8, this charming Serenade starts unassumingly and develops into grand gestures, with the piano sweeping round the keyboard, and the cello including a brief cadenza near the end.

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