Henriette Voigt, née Kuntze (1808–1839)

Henriette Voigt (Lithography, cf. http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/)

Henriette Voigt was born in Leipzig on 24th November 1808. She received her first piano lessons in Leipzig from Karl Gottlieb Reißiger (1798-1859), then in the 1820s from Ludwig Berger (1777-1839) in Berlin. The latter was also a teacher of Wilhelm Taubert and Felix Mendelssohn, with whom she would play together in Berlin, four hands. In 1828, she returned to Leipzig and in 1830 married the merchant Carl Voigt (1805-1881) with whom she had two daughters, Ottilie (1835-1887) and Anna (1839-1844). Felix Mendelssohn became the godfather of the former and Robert Schumann for the second daughter.

In Leipzig, Henriette Voigt taught the piano, which she also continued after her marriage, and ran a salon, together with her husband, where artists living in Leipzig and transient artists would gather, amongst whom Mendelssohn, Ludwig Schuncke, Frédéric Chopin, Taubert, Louis Spohr, William Sterndale Bennett, and also Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck. Although Henriette Voigt was a very good pianist and chamber music partner, she did not perform in public but only in private circles, such as in the house of the Wiecks or the Caruses and at her own music gatherings. Her repertoire encompassed mainly works by Beethoven and composers from her circle of acquaintances, such as Schumann, Wieck, Spor, Chopin, or Schuncke.

The contact between Robert Schumann and Henriette Voigt came about via Schuncke in 1834. As shown in their correspondence, a close familiarity soon developed between the two of them: In a letter dated 4th September 1834, Schumann called her “soul in A-flat major”, and in his fictitious music society League of David, she received the name of Eleonore or Leonore, probably an allusion to Beethoven’s opera Fidelio – there, Leonore is the wife of Florestan, a known pseudonym of Robert Schumann. Henriette Voigt, in turn, adored Schumann and was delighted by his piano works which she performed in private circles. Schumann’s Fantasia Pieces, Op. 12, and Scenes from Childhood, Op. 15, inspired her to write poems. In the same year, on her 15th birthday, Clara Wieck also met Henriette Voigt in Leipzig; they made music together and Clara described her in her diary as “[a highly educated and amiable woman]” (Jugendtagebücher [Youth Diaries], p. 169). After that, the two of them would meet more often in Leipzig, and Clara Wieck also praised her piano playing in her diary. In 1835, Robert Schumann met Felix Mendelssohn via Henriette Voigt.

Clara Wieck dedicated her Soirées musicales, Op. 6, to her, also to thank her for buying a grand piano from Friedrich Wieck, as the latter noted in Clara’s diary on 30th August 1836. In 1839, Robert Schumann dedicated his Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, to Henriette Voigt.

On 15th October 1839, Henriette Voigt, who had cared for her friend Ludwig Schuncke in 1834, who had been ill with tuberculosis, died in Leipzig from tuberculosis as well. In his “Erinnerung an eine Freundin [Memories of a Friend]”, Robert Schumann wrote: “[… she played correctly, gracefully, with obvious pleasure, but not without some fearfulness when other people were listening. She strictly adhered to the principles of her school for a long time, making it difficult, for instance, to get her to use the invigorating pedal. But we never heard her play a bad composition; and she never encouraged anything bad to be played …]” (Gesammelte Schriften (Collected Writings], Vol. 3, p. 176).

After Henriette Voigt’s death, a closer relationship between Robert and Clara Schumann and Carl Voigt developed. Being a businessman, he supported Schumann, inter alia, in the financial matters of his journal; Clara Schumann remained friends with Carl Voigt until 1881.

Cf. Hanna Bergmann and Mirjam Gerber: Article “Voigt, Henriette, geb. Kunze, Kuntze”, in: Europäische Instrumentalistinnen des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts. 2007. Online Encyclopaedia of the Sophie Drinker Institute, edited by Freia Hoffmann. Online at: https://www.sophie-drinker-institut.de/voigt-henriette [04.09.2020].

Cf. Clara Wieck, Jugendtagebücher 1827‒1840, edited by Gerd Nauhaus and Nancy B. Reich, with the collaboration of Kristin R.M. Krahe, Hildesheim, 2019.

Cf. Mirjam Gerber: Article “Henriette Voigt”, in: Musikvermittlung und Genderforschung: Lexikon und multimediale Präsentationen, edited by Beatrix Borchard, Hamburg University of Music and Theatre, 2003 ff. (as at 13.08.2007). Online at: https://mugi.hfmt-hamburg.de/artikel/Henriette_Voigt.html [4.9.2020].

Cf. Mirjam Gerber: Zwischen Salon und musikalischer Geselligkeit: Henriette Voigt, Livia Frege und Leipzigs bürgerliches Musikleben (= Studien und Materialien zur Musikwissenschaft 90), Hildesheim et al., 2016.

Cf. Schumann-Briefedition, Series II, Vol. 15: Briefwechsel mit Freunden und Künstlerkollegen (Briefwechsel Robert und Clara Schumanns mit den Familien Voigt, Preußer, Herzogenberg und anderen Korrespondenten in Leipzig), edited by Annegret Rosenmüller and Ekaterina Smyka, Cologne, 2016, pp. 41–49.

Cf. Wolfgang Seibold: Familie, Freunde, Zeitgenossen. Die Widmungsträger der Schumannschen Werke (= Schumann-Studien 5), Sinzig, 2008, pp. 309–312.

(Theresa Schlegel, 2020, translated by Thomas Henninger)

Die von uns eingesetzten und einsetzbaren Cookies stellen wir Ihnen unter dem Link Cookie-Einstellungen in der Datenschutzerklärung vor. Voreingestellt werden nur zulässige Cookies, für die wir keine Einwilligung benötigen. Weiteren funktionellen Cookies können Sie gesondert in den Cookie-Einstellungen oder durch Bestätigung des Buttons "Akzeptieren" zustimmen.