Emma Brandes, married Engelmann, née Vick (1853-1940)

(Brandes was the maiden name of Emma’s mother and was used by Emma as an artist name before her marriage)

Emma Brandes (18.01.1853, Neubukow - 14.06.1940, Berlin-Spandau) as a young girl

Emma Brandes (18.01.1853, Neubukow - 14.06.1940, Berlin-Spandau) as a young girl
Steel engraving from the Manskopf Collection, University Library of Frankfurt

In August 1869, the conductor Aloys Schmitt from Schwerin introduced the fifteen-year-old Emma Brandes to Clara Schumann. In her diary, the pianist wrote that the girl was extremely talented and technically quite excellent, and that she would not mind taking her on as a pupil right away. This, however, did not happen until 1870.  Probably still in the same year, Emma married the physiologist Theodor Wilhelm Engelmann from Leizig, who had been an assistant at the University of Utrecht since 1867. In 1888, he became a professor and taught at this Dutch university until his appointment to Berlin in 1897. In Berlin, Engelmann was appointed professor of physiology and Director of the Institute of Physiology until 1908. He died in 1909. Engelmann was a music and literature lover and himself played the cello. After her marriage, Emma Brandes gave up her promising concert career but still performed in private circles. The couple had been very interested in the latest works of Brahms for decades and also travelled to attend performances of works by Schumann. Clara Schumann visited them in Utrecht frequently and also stayed at her former pupil’s house during her concert tours.

In July 1870, Clara Schumann noted in her diary: “[I had great joy with her (Emma) and she became dearer to me every day. It was a very exciting time for me because I relived my earliest youth through her, but along with the joy I had to finally see a real talent rising according to my wishes, and, above all, an interpreter of Robert’s compositions, a melancholy thought kept crossing my mind that I would soon no longer be needed here, that this woman would replace me! Perhaps she will not have the same passion and fire of my playing, but this is not really necessary, as there are never two identical individuals, and each one always has her own justification. She astonished and delighted me with every piece she played to me over and over again. As soon as she sits down at the piano, she is immediately imbued with that holy earnestness, she is completely committed to it, and I have never seen this in any of the young girls who rise one after another and go out again, ... Emma Brandes is pure nature in everything and, who knows, once love warms her heart, perhaps this will also ignite the fire in her and an inner depth will appear, which life brings along with its joys and sorrows ...]”. 

(J.M.N., translated by Th. H.)

Cf. also https://mugi.hfmt-hamburg.de/ and, more recent and very informative: https://www.sophie-drinker-institut.de/brandes-emma

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