It is often said that behind every great and successful man stands a great woman. This old saying certainly applies to famous composers as well. Like many of us, great composers throughout the centuries have experienced the joys and pains of falling in love. Some of them achieved a long and happy marriage while others ended in divorce and found love again. In the list below you will learn about these women who captured the hearts of some of the most famous composers of all times.
Constanze Mozart was the wife of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Much controversy has existed throughout the last two-hundred years over the relationship that Mozart had with his wife. There were occasional signs of tension between them, as in any union but their marriage was unquestionably a success.
Maria Barbara Bach
Maria Barbara Bach was the first wife of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. She was also his second cousin, the daughter of Johann Michael Bach. In May of 1720 Bach accompanied his employer, Prince Leopold, to a spa in Karlsbad. He returned nearly two months later to discover that Maria Barbara had died from a sudden illness and was already buried. She was only 35. In his grief he wrote the monumental “Chaconne“, the fifth and final movement of the Partita in D minor for solo violin, which is still considered one of the most profound works in the instrumental repertory.
Beethoven fell in love with one of his students, Therese Malfatti. Even-though he proposed to her, she didn’t accept and they never married. In 1810 Beethoven wrote to Therese a letter which ended: “Now fare you well, respected Therese. I wish you all the good and beautiful things of this life. Bear me in memory, no one can wish you a brighter, happier life than I—even should it be that you care not at all for. Your devoted servant and friend Beethoven.”
It is believed that the famous Für Elise was dedicated to her, ‘Elise’ being a misreading of the name ‘Therese’. It was found among her personal papers.
Marie Recio Berlioz
Hector Berlioz had several love affairs and was twice married, first to Harriet Smithson, an Irish actress who inspired him writing his “Symphonie Fantastique“. However, with their marriage a failure, Berlioz and his first wife separated and later on he decided to marry his mistress, singer Marie Recio. By all accounts she was a mediocre singer and her 1843 debut at the Paris Opera was a fiasco. Much to her lover’s horror, she insisted on performing in concerts of the composer’s music. “She sings like a cat“, Berlioz confided to conductor Ferdinand Hiller.
Giuseppina Strepponi Verdi
Operatic Soprano, Giuseppina Strepponi was the second wife of composer Giuseppe Verdi. She was the most famous singer of her day when he, an unknown composer at that time, wanted her to perform his work. Eventually they became lovers and lived together for more than a decade before marrying in 1859 in France.