Marianne von Martinez

Composer Information

Birth - May 4, 1744 | Vienna, Austria

Death - December 13, 1812 | Vienna, Austria

Nationality - Austrian

Era - Classical

Composer Biography

Written by: Braeden Weyhrich

Marianne von Martinez, also referenced as Marianna Martines, was somewhat of a child prodigy. A vocalist, keyboardist, and composer, Martinez’s talents were noticed by her neighbor Pietro Metastasio when she was only nine years old. Metastasio provided Martinez with education in French, English, German, and Italian, in addition to other subjects that made her education superior to that of most other upper-middle-class girls of the time. Additionally, Metastasio called upon his acquaintances Niccolò Porpora, Giuseppi Bonno, and the then-unknown Franz Joseph Haydn to supply Martinez’s musical education. She regularly performed in the Viennese court, and had a mass performed in the court chapel as a teenager.

Martinez was very highly regarded by all musicians with whom she came into contact. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart often invited her to perform four-hand piano sonatas alongside him. Music historian Charles Burney visited her in 1772 and wrote high praises in what “remains the most extended and enthusiastic appreciation of her skills as a singer, keyboard artist, and composer” and serves as “a testimony to her intelligence and refinement”. Martinez was honored with an induction into the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna in 1783, whose membership also includes such names as Arcangelo Corelli, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Niccoló Paganini. 

Unlike many other Viennese musicians of the time, Martinez never sought a patron or church to fund her music-making. She never married and simply created her music for her own joy while also caring for her mentor, Pietro Metastasio, in his old age. Upon Metastasio’s death in 1782, Martinez inherited his harpsichord and music library, as well as a large sum of money. She used these resources to open a singing school in her home in the 1790’s. Her home was also a chamber music destination, with tenor Michael Kelly and keyboardists Mozart and Haydn often attending soirées and performing for or alongside her.

Much of Martinez’s acclaim died along with her in 1812. For centuries, she has gone largely unknown, while her counterparts Mozart and Haydn were and still are household names. Her music has been rediscovered in recent years, and many of her pieces have been published since the 1990’s by publishers that seek out and promote works by female composers, including Furore Verlag and ClarNan Editions.

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