Composer Information

Birth - March 2, 1764 | Lyon, France

Death - May 20, 1836 | Florence, Italy

Nationality - French

Era - Classical

Composer Biography

Written by: Trevor Nelson

Hélène de Montgeroult was born into an aristocratic family in Lyons in March 1764. Her social standing eventually led to a move to Paris to study as a pianist with a number of prominent teachers, such as Nicolas Joseph Hüllmandel, Muzio Clementi, and Jan Ladislav Dussek. Not much is known about the middle period of her life, though it is believed that her composition skills allowed her to escape the fate of many of her aristocratic friends and family members during the French Reign of Terror.  In 1795 she was appointed professeur de première classe (first-class teacher) at the new Paris Conservatorie, where she primarily taught piano.  As the first female faculty member at the Conservatorie, her social capital grew, leading to her home becoming one of the leading Parisian musical salons. Most of her compositional output is for piano and pedagogical in nature, though some pieces do include vocal parts, typically to be sung by the pianist.

See Also

  • Pamela Youngdahl Dees. A Guide to Piano Music by Women Composers. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.
  • Maria Rose. “Hélène de Montgeroult and the Art of Singing Well on the Piano.” Women & Music 5 (2001).
  • Julie Anne Sadie. “Musiciennes of the Ancien Régime.” In Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950, edited by Jane Bowers and Judith Tick, 191-223. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986.