Marianna "Maria" Agata (Wolowska) Szymanowska
December 14, 1789 - July 25, 1831
The lovely Polish composer, Marie Agata Szymanowska, was one of the first professional virtuoso pianists of the nineteenth century and became the first Polish pianist to gain a European reputation. She paved the way for many other Polish musicians, of both genders, to play their music on concert stages throughout the world just as she has. Even though Maria did not come from a musical family, her parents had seen her potential and fully supported her by making sure she received the very best education in Poland.
She preferred all over Europe before taking up permanent residency in Russia. It was in St. Petersburg where Maria performed outstanding concerts, taught music, and composed for the Imperial courts while running her influential salon.
While Maria was touring Europe in 1810 she married Theophilus Jozef Szymanowski. Her husband was unsupported of her love for music and greatly disliked her career as a concert pianist. In response to her husband's negative attitude, Maria left him in 1820 taking their three children with her. From that moment on, Maria was able to successfully support her children with her wages from composing and performing concerts (the feminist part of me is doing backflips in celebration of her independent success which further proves women DO NOT have to have a husband to in order to have a successful career and life).
Around 1830 Romantic music combined with piano music had taken all of Europe and America by storm, which helped Maria become exceptionally known for her nocturnes.
It was during the nineteenth century that many more females started to become concert pianists like Maria, and many of them wrote their own compositions as well. This was a way to secure additional revenue by providing people the chance to purchase copies of the beautiful compositions and learn how to play them themselves. This most likely was a factor that contributed in the growth of the European middle class, which made pianos very common household accessories. Since so many people now owned pianos, the market for sheet music expanded, which Maria Agata Szymanowska and many other had taken advantage of.
Maria was one of the first composers to pioneer the usage of Polish dance forms (like the mazurka and polonaise) as basis for her compositions; she used this blend in her nocturnes, waltzes, and etudes. This signature style of hers had influenced Frédéric Chopin greatly and can be heard throughout his compositions.
Some of the many compositions by Maria Agata Szymanowska:
• Romance a Joséphine
• Le connais-tu
• Nocturne in A-flat major: "La Murmure"
• Alpuhara (ballade)
• Hedwige, Reine Polonaise
• Chant de la tour