Gabriele Wietrowetz (1866–1937)

Gabriele Wietrowetz (photo, cf.

Gabriele Wietrowetz was one of the finest violinists of her time, along with Wilma Neruda and Marie Soldat; she toured throughout Europe for more than 40 years and became the first “extraordinary violin teacher” at the Royal Conservatoire in Berlin from 1901. There, she had been a pupil of Joseph Joachim between 1882 and 1885. He himself counted her amongst his favourite pupils because of her exceptional virtuosity and promoted her beyond her studies by securing her a gratuitous “free place” at the Conservatoire. He also introduced her to the circles of his Berlin and London artist friends and thus established contacts for her for future concert performances.

The contact with Clara Schumann came about via the conductor and composer Hermann Levi: In March 1890, Gabriele Wietrowetz asked him to arrange for a letter of recommendation to allow her to play in a Frankfurt museum concert. However, Clara Schumann had probably already met Gabriele Wietrowetz in person a few weeks earlier. She followed with interest the music development of the violinist in subsequent years but was also concerned about Wietrowetz’s extensive concert workload and the state of her health. Clara Schumann knew too well about the effects of such tightly organised concerts which drained her emotionally and also contributed to her arm pain. So she tried to pass on her experiences to her and gently admonished but also supported her: When the violinist came to Frankfurt am Main in January 1892 on the occasion of a concert, she put her up at her home on Myliusstraße street. In England, Gabriele Wietrowetz often appeared together with Fanny Davies and Leonard Borwick, former pupils of Clara Schumann.

In his Encyclopaedia Die Violine und ihre Meister [The Violin and its Masters] (1910), the Schumann biographer Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski described Gabriele Wietrowetz as: “[one of the most important representatives of her instrument]” (quoted after Melchert, p. 9, footnote 2); he regularly dedicated an entry to the violinist from the 1904 edition.

Cf. Yuki Melchert: Gabriele Wietrowetz. Ein “weiblicher Joachim”? Ein Beitrag zur Künstlerinnensozialgeschichte zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts, Hildesheim et al., publisher Olms, 2018, here p. 11, footnote 8, pp. 273-296.

Cf. Silke Wenzel: Article “Gabriele Wietrowetz”, in: MUGI. Musikvermittlung und Genderforschung: Lexikon und multimediale Präsentationen, edited by Beatrix Borchard and Nina Noeske, Hamburg University of Music and Theatre, 2003 ff. (as at 20th April 2007). Online at: [02.09.2020].

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Thomas Henninger, 2020)

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