Hélène de Montgeroult
Hélène Montgeroult (1764-1836), composer, distinguished
keyboard virtuoso, and student of Dussek and Clementi, was one of the
first piano teachers at the Paris Conservatoire. During the Reign of the
Terror she was accused of treason and sentenced to the guillotine. In
1793 the founder of the Paris Conservatoire, her friend and admirer Bernard
Sarrette, appealed for her pardon, successfully, on the grounds that she
was one of Paris’s greatest keyboardists and needed as a teacher.
To convince the judge, a harpsichord was brought into the court and she
improvised on the Marseillaise. She began her three-volume piano
method perhaps as early as 1795, including 972 exercises and 114 progressive
études. The imprint of hands on this page illustrates the type
of technique that was admired in the eighteenth century. The impression
is of lightness, poise, and balance, rather than strength and power.
Hélène de Montgeroult, Cours complet
pour L’enseignement du forté piano : conduisant progressivement
des premiers eléments aux plus grandes difficultés,
3 vols. Paris: Chez Janet & Cotelle, [18--].
to The Cult of Mozart
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