Tireless worker, so much that they had to prescribe absolute rest in his last months of life for the serious health problems resulting from his exhaustion, and tireless traveler, first emigrant by the economic situation of his country, but later as a disseminator and musical star by four continents, Teresa Carreño He devoted himself body and soul to music until being considered the greatest pianist of the last two centuries.
The sensitivity, the perseverance, the love for freedom and an overwhelming personality turned her into an advance of her time in social customs and uses. Four marriages and seven children, innumerable trips around the world, entrepreneur and businesswoman, but, above all, a piano virtuoso who rubbed shoulders with the most important European masters of the time, such as Ravel, Debussy, Gounod, Rossini, Brahms or Liszt. Everyone praised his style and execution. Criticism was almost always on his side, and his technique, described by her as the art of "playing with the instrument", revolutionized the canons of the orthodoxy of the German avant-garde of the late nineteenth century.
María Teresa Gertrudis de Jesús Carreño García was born on December 22, 1853, in Caracas. His mother was the cousin of the wife of the national hero of the country, Simón Bolívar, his grandfather was a well-known composer and his father, Manuel Antonio Carreño, was finance minister of Venezuela and inherited the love for the piano. This is how little Teresa grew up in a comfortable and abundant environment and with all the facilities to be guided by her father, to devote herself to music since she learned to walk.
When I was 5 years old, Teresa already practiced with more than 500 musical exercises composed by her father that contained technical difficulties and rhythm. He continued his studies with the pianists Jules Hohené and Georges Mathias, but his life of comforts and exclusive attention took a turn when the situation of the country and the family changed by dragging the first to the second: in 1862, when he was not yet 9 years old , the Carreño García family left Venezuela because of the difficult political and economic situation that the country was going through. On August 1, the family left for New York, leaving the oldest daughter, 15 years of age, to marry.
Teresa immediately received classes from the famous teacher of German origin Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Anton Rubinstein, and began to pay for their progress and clear capabilities with small private concerts to friends of the family, with which he increased his fame and helped to sustain financially to yours. His first public concert took place on November 25 of that year in the Irving Hall in New York. The criticism was so favorable that in the following 36 days until the end of the year the girl offered five more presentations, among which the one of the Academy of Music of Brooklyn.
A year later, in the autumn of 1863, and without even reaching the piano pedals, he offered a private concert at the White House before Abraham Lincoln, in which he played several pieces by his teacher Gottschalk, one of the favorite of the American president. As an anecdote, recalled years later by herself, she realized that the grand piano in the presidential precinct was out of tune and was enraged saying she would not play anymore, although Lincoln got her to agree to perform one of her favorite songs, 'Listen to the mocking bird'(Listening to the nightingale) and the little one did it with some variations with respect to the original score.
At that age, 9 years old, and considered a child prodigy, Carreño made his debut as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic, and began an unstoppable concert career in Havana (Cuba), but also in the United States. cities such as Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore …, among others. With the same success, he debuted in Paris on May 3, 1866, and this activity was followed by several presentations that allowed him to enter the musical medium of the French capital. There he met world music celebrities such as composers Rossini, Gounod, Debussy, Brahms, Ravel and Vivier. He had the opportunity to play with Franz Liszt, whom he left astonished with his interpretative faculties. The Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini and the operatic singer Adelina Patti motivated her to study singing, and that is how she also made her debut as a mezzo-soprano at the opera house.The Huguenots', By Giacomo Meyerbeer.
From Paris he also traveled to Spain and, with hardly any rest, he continued to offer concerts around the world. At age 19, in 1873, he married Emile Sauret, a violinist with whom he had the following year his first daughter, Emilia Sauret Carreño. However, Teresa's dedication to music forced her to leave her in the care of a German friend. Teresa lost her second child and experienced her first failures in a musical tour organized by her. The marriage ended up separating and, faced with the economic difficulties, the pianist accepted the terrible proposal of her German friend to adopt her daughter on the condition that she never saw her again.
In 1876 Teresa married the Italian baritone Giovanni Tagliapietra, a member of the company with which he was on tour and founded a concert company, the Carreño-Donaldi Operatic Gem Company. Teresa had three children: Lulú (1878), Teresita (1882) and Giovanni (1885), to whom she dedicated herself body and soul trying to combine her business and musical activity and not to make the same mistake as her first daughter. in adoption.
In February 1887 he returned to his native Venezuela invited by President Guzmán Blanco, but suffered his second professional failure. The poor quality of her opera company, together with the public's refusal to associate it with the government's political propaganda and also the fact that she was divorced, something unthinkable at that time, turned that room into a martyrdom. So much so that even the night of the first show the director did not show up and it was when Teresa, forced by circumstances, debuted as orchestra director so as not to suspend it.
In addition, the Commercial Court of the Federal District forced Teresa to remain in the country for a debt claim from one of the company's members, although, in the end, with the help of President Guzmán Blanco, he was able to return to the United States for six months. after. Although he was only in Venezuela twice, and for 10 years in total, he always kept his nationality by birth.
In 1889 Teresa separated from her second husband and settled down with her children in Germany, where she continued to offer concerts and earned the respect of the demanding public, establishing herself as a concert performer of international fame. There he married for the third time, this time with the famous pianist Eugen d'Albert, with whom he had two more daughters: Eugenia and Hertha, but it was not his last marriage, since in 1902 he married Arturo Tagliapietra, brother of his second husband, Giovanni.
At the outbreak of World War I Teresa began a tour of Spain, Cuba and the United States. In 1917 he prepared a tour of South America, but before doing it offered a successful concert with the Philharmonic of Havana. When she finished, she felt indisposed and the doctor who attended her advised her to cancel her artistic commitments and return to New York. In the United States, he was diagnosed with partial paralysis of the optic nerve, which threatened to spread to the brain. He was prescribed absolute rest and a diet, but in spite of all the precautions he died on June 12 of that same year, at age 63, in his Manhattan apartment, where in 2003 a commemorative plaque was discovered in his name. His ashes were taken to Venezuela in 1938 and since December 9, 1977 rest in the National Pantheon. In his honor, the main cultural complex of Caracas, inaugurated in 1983, bears his name.
In her more than 50 years of professional career, Teresa Carreño excelled as a pianist, opera singer, artistic entrepreneur and counselor and teacher of generations of artists of her time. Among his more than 75 works as a composer are the 'Hymn to Bolívar','Greeting to Caracas', the Vals 'To Teresita', Dedicated to his daughter and the'Quartet for strings in B flat', A legacy of incalculable value for an illustrious Venezuelan woman of world renown and whose music is still topical.