Herzlich Willkommen bei MUGI

  • (PDF)
  • DeutschEnglish
  • Luise Adolpha Le Beau

    by Annika Forkert
    Luise Adolpha Le Beau. Stahlstich, um 1880.
    Luise Adolpha Le Beau
    b in Rastatt,
    d in Baden-Baden,
    composer, pianist, music critic, music author, piano- and musical theory teacher
    Characteristic statement:

    “Man muß sich mit dem Bewußtsein begnügen, nach bestem Wissen und ehrlichem Wollen an dem Tempel der Kunst mit gebaut zu haben. Sind es auch nur einige Steinchen, die ich beitragen durfte, so war ich doch stets bemüht, meine künstlerischen Pflichten zu erfüllen.“

    “It has to be enough to know that one has contributed to building the temple of art to the best of one’s knowledge and ability. Even if I was only allowed to add a few pebbles I always tried to fulfil my artistic obligations.”

    (Luise Adolpha Le Beau, in: Lebenserinnerungen einer Komponistin, Reprint der 1. Aufl. von 1910, hg. v. Ulrike B. Keil und Willi H. Bauer anlässlich des 150. Geburtstages der Komponistin, Gaggenau: Verlag Willi Bauer, 1999, S. 279, p. 279)


    Luise Adolpha Le Beau saw herself primarily as professional composer; a pianist virtuoso career was out of the question for her, amongst other things, for health reasons. When her work as a critic in Baden-Baden affected her relationship with the town authorities she completely withdrew from public life as pianist and composer. Her main concern was to become accepted as a female composer; she also discussed this in her memoirs.

    Cities and countries

    Born in Rastatt, Luise Adolpha Le Beau and her parents first moved to Mannheim in 1857, then, in early 1859, back to Rastatt and later in 1859 to Karlsruhe. From there she visited Heidelberg in 1870, took piano lessons with Clara Schumann in 1873 in Baden-Baden, and started a concert tour to Holland in 1874. In spring 1874 the family moved to Munich. Le Beau lived there for eleven years. During that time she gave concerts in Leipzig, Salzburg and Vienna, and travelled to Bayreuth, Weimar and other German cities. From 1885 to 1890 the family lived in Wiesbaden to eventually move to Berlin at the father’s request. After three years in Berlin Le Beau and her parents moved back to Baden-Baden in 1893, where she kept her residence even after the parents’ deaths apart from private journeys to Italy, southern France and Paris.


    (The following is mainly based on Luise Adolpha Le Beau autobiography “Lebenserinnerungen einer Komponistin“, Reprint der 1. Auflage von 1910, hg. v. Ulrike B. Keil und Willi H. Bauer anlässlich des 150. Geburtstages der Komponistin, Gaggenau: Verlag Willi Bauer, 1999. Page numbers refer to this edition unless otherwise stated.)

    1850-1874: Youth in Baden

    Luise Caroline Marie Henriette Adolpha Le Beau was born 25th April 1850 in Rastatt as only daughter of Karoline Le Beau, nee Barack (1828-1900), and Wilhelm Le Beau (1820-1896). Her father was general major with Baden’s ministry of war and moved with his family to Mannheim in 1857, to Rastatt in 1859 and at the end of the same year to Karlsruhe. He was Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s first piano tutor and instructed her in science subjects; he was an amateur composer himself and had founded and conducted a mixed choir in Rastatt. Luise Adolpha Le Beau studied languages from 1863 to 1866 as guest student at the local girls’ school; she took violin and singing lessons with the town’s musicians. In 1866 she started studying piano and musical theory with the court orchestra’s director Wilhelm Kalliwoda (1827-1893) in Karlsruhe; she had singing lessons with Anton Haizinger (1796-1869). She played her first public concert in Karlsruhe on 27th November 1867, which included amongst others a solo from Johann Sebastian Bach’s concerto for three pianos in d-major, BWV 1063. In summer 1873 Luise Adolpha Le Beau had piano lessons with Clara Schumann (1819-1896) in Baden-Baden upon recommendation of Munich’s court chapel master Hermann Levi (1839-1900). However, Le Beau discontinued tuition after twelve lessons, according to Le Beau, because of Clara Schumann’s teaching methods and personal differences.

    1874-1885: Munich

    It was a recommendation letter sent by Hans von Bülow (1830-1894), who she had played for, to poetress Franziska Rheinberger (1831-1892, wife of Josef Rheinberger, also known under her first husband’s name as Franziska von Hoffnaaß) that led Luise Adolpha Le Beau to Munich in spring 1874, where she was initially tutored by Rheinberger’s former student and founder of Munich’s Tonkünstlerverein Melchior Ernst Sachs (1843-1917) in harmonics and counterpoint. In February 1874 she undertook a concert tour to various dutch cities together with her mother, from which she returned very exhausted. In her memoirs Luise Adolpha Le Beau describes her health as unstable and unsuited for the strains of touring. In autumn of the same year her first published works appeared (op. 1: three piano pieces, published 1876 by Präger & Meier, Bremen). From 1876 onwards she took private lessons in Munich with Rheinberger (due to the Royal Music School’s regulations she was tutored separately from male students) and he dedicated his “Toccata for piano“ op. 104 to her. However, in 1880 they fell out over the New German School debate: Rheinberger was a follower of the conservative side, while Luise Adolpha Le Beau shared the aesthetic views of Franz Liszt’s followers. Personal differences added to the issue - in her memoirs she accused Franziska Rheinberger of plotting against her. After this, Franz Lachner (1803-1890) took over reviewing her compositions. As early as 1878, she founded the “private music course for daughters of the educated classes” in Munich, where she tutored girls in piano and musical theory to prepare them for job opportunities as piano teachers. In the same year, she started to write music reviews on an honorary basis for the “Berliner Allgemeine Deutsche Musikzeitung“ (“Berlin General German Music Paper”). She did, however, discontinue these reviews after the responsible editor amended and shortened her articles. In 1882 she won an international competition for composing a piece for violoncello and piano in Hamburg (jurors were Nils W. Gade, Carl Reinecke and Julius von Bernuth) with her op. 24, which was published afterwards. Her sonata d-minor for violoncello and piano op. 17 was also recommended for publication by the jury. She became increasingly well-known in Munich: the first small biographies were published (according to her autobiography a picture of her was published in 1880 in Brandstetter’s “Composer Calendar” [“Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 130]), and Luise Adolpha Le Beau was named honorary member of Salzburg’s Mozarteum “infolge [ihres] Spiels“ (“because of [her] playing”). Her new compositions were frequently performed by members of the court orchestra during soirées and matinées she hosted. During these years, Luise Adolpha Le Beau gave concerts in Berlin and Leipzig (1882) as well as Salzburg and Vienna (1884), where she met Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904) and Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), among others. She attended the “Bayreuther Festspiele” (“Bayreuth Festival”), where she listened to Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal“. A visit to Franz Liszt (1811-1896) in Weimar during the same year was disappointing for her, as it neither secured her the contacts she had hoped for nor, by her own estimation, furthered her development in playing the piano. She was, however, able to successfully perform her piano quartet op. 28 in Leipzig. She had also attempted to secure a performance of her fantasy for piano and orchestra op. 25 by the “Allgemeinen Deutschen Musikverein” (“General German Music Society”) there. The attempt failed due to disagreements with the responsible president Karl Riedel (1827-1888), and Le Beau left the society in 1884 after five years of membership (see “Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 108). The following year she became a committee member of the Munich teachers’ society that had been newly founded as an interest group for professional music teachers of either sex. Luise Adolpha Le Beau wrote in her “Lebenserinnerungen“ („Memories“) about the Munich years: “Die zwölf Jahre in München zählen zu den ereignis- und erfolgreichsten Jahren meines Lebens und wenn sie mir auch manche bittere Erfahrung brachten, so bewahre ich der bayerischen Residenz doch ein freundliches und dankbares Andenken.“ (“The twelve years in Munich count among the most eventful and most successful of my life, they may have brought me a number of bitter experiences but I still recall the bavarian residency with kindness and gratefulness.” “Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 139)

    1885-1893: Wiesbaden and Berlin

    Due to the parents’ increasing frailty and frequent issues in working with local musicians (see “Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 139) the family moved to the more temperate climate of Wiesbaden in September 1885. According to her own words, Luise Adolpha Le Beau quickly found access to the town’s musical life (see “Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 140). She continued tutoring girls of the upper classes and gave concerts performing her own and other works. During her time in Wiesbaden she started working on “Hadumoth. Szenen aus Scheffels ‘Ekkehard‘“ (“Hadumoth. Scences from Scheffel’s ‘Ekkehard’”) op. 40 and wrote piano concerto op. 37. In her memoirs, Luise Adolpha Le Beau describes an increasing number of intrigues against her in Wiesbaden that meant that her works were not performed there (see for example “Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 149), while being performed very successfully in other cities, such as Cologne or Frankfurt, and internationally (performance of the piano quartet op. 28 in Sydney and scenes from “Ruth“ op. 27 in Pera, a district of Constantinople). Early in 1890, Luise Adolpha Le Beau and her parents moved to Berlin. She only tutored few students here, so that she could concentrate on composing and subsequently duplicating the music score and voices for “Hadumoth”, which she did with her parents‘ assistance using a lithographic hand-stone-press (tachograph method). Having attempted unsuccessfully to have the work performed, Luise Adolpha Le Beau contacted Georg Vierling (1820-1901). He was a member of the Berlin’s “Royal Academy of Art’s” (“Berliner königlichen Akademie der Künste”) senate and had nominated her for a chair at the “Royal School of Music”. However, this failed, as the title Professor was never granted to women. Le Beau experienced other disappointing events. For example, violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) kept the score of her string quartet op. 34 for review for a full year without reading it. She also couldn’t help the impression that, lacking contacts and significant financial investing, new works found hardly any performance opportunities in Berlin. Up to her move in autumn 1893 she undertook intensive music-historical studies at the “Royal Library Berlin” (“Königlichen Bibliothek Berlin”) (today “Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz”).

    1893-1927: Baden-Baden

    At the age of 43, Luise Adolpha Le Beau and her parents moved to Baden-Baden. There, she built up a successful and fruitful collaboration with local musicians and found support for performances of her work from the Duchess Luise von Baden (1838-1923). Her larger compositions could be premiered with the city orchestra in Baden-Baden: 1894 “Hadumoth“ op. 40, 1895 symphony f minor, op. 41, and 1898 symphonic poem “Hohenbaden“ op. 43, all under the conductor Paul Hein. In 1896 her father died, which caused Luise Adolpha Le Beau to take a break from her concert and composing activities. However, in keeping with his wishes she withdrew herself from public life for only a short time. From 1898 onwards she wrote music reviews for the local paper “Badeblatt”. In 1900 her mother died. Following a disagreement with the city’s mayor regarding one of her reviews, Luise Adolpha Le Beau stopped handing compositions to the spa committee from 1901 to preserve her independence as a critic. Her fairy tale opera “Der verzauberte Kalif“ (“The Enchanted Caliph”) op. 55 was composed during the same year and Luise Adolpha Le Beau dedicated this to her parents. After every attempt to see the work performed outside Baden-Baden had failed (following a dispute in 1901 she did not pass any composition to the Baden-Baden spa committee), Luise Adolpha Le Beau, disappointed, retired from composing and restricted herself to music publishing activities, which she now saw as inconsolable with her work as composer (“Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 254ff.). Although her works kept being successfully performed in Baden-Baden’s private circles by local musicians or herself (for example her quintet op. 54, Three Songs op. 45 or the choir “Der Wind, der wandernde Wind“ – “The Wind, the wandering wind” - from Two Women’s Choirs op. 60) and tenor Alfredo de Giorgio performed her works op. 45 and 48 in Rome, she hardly took any part in this and criticised the new music and contemporary audience in her life memories: “Es sind Erzeugnisse ruheloser Menschen, die keine Befriedigung in sich haben und die musikalischen Gourmands, die gestachelt und gezwickt sein wollen, weil ihrem verdorbenen Magen der Appetit für gesunde Kost fehlt, finden in den Aeußerlichkeiten und der Klangduselei eine ihrem Lebenskatzenjammer verwandte Stimmung.“ (“These are the products of restless people, who do not find satisfaction in themselves, and the musical gourmands who want to be stung and pinched because their spoiled stomachs’ lack the taste for healthy food, that find a mood akin to their lives’ crapulence in sound dizziness.” “Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 278)

    From 1903 onwards she undertook annual educational journeys to Italy and France, either by herself or with her female friends, that she describes in travel journals. Nothing is known about compositions between roughly 1905 and 1912 (in 1912 she created a “musical happy birthday” for a female counsellor named Haape, she was friends with), however, Luise Adolpha Le Beau did celebrate her 40th anniversary as an artist in 1907, catalogued Grand Duchess Sophie von Baden’s musical library in Karlsruhe in 1908, and published her memoirs “Lebenserinnerungen einer Komponistin“ with Emil Sommermeyer in Baden-Baden in 1910, which then rekindled the media’s interest in her personality and her works. This autobiography mainly offers accounts of Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s concerts and her encounters with male and female colleagues. Her private life (friends outside her musical circle) as well as the circumstances surrounding the creation of her compositions are mentioned only sporadically.

    “Es entsteht der Eindruck, dass Le Beau die kreative Phase des Komponierens bewusst und strikt im Verborgenen zu halten versucht. Ihre Werke existieren in ihrer Autobiografie erst dann, wenn sie bereits in den Kreislauf des Musiklebens – mit Aufführung, Verlag und Rezension – Eingang gefunden haben.“ (“There is the distinct impression that Le Beau tries, consciously and strictly, to keep the creative phase of composing hidden away. Her works only exist in her autobiography once they have entered the circle of musical life - with performance, publication and critiques.” Melanie Unseld. “Eine weibliche Sinfonietradition jenseits von Beethoven? Luise Adolpha Le Beau und ihre Sinfonie op. 41“. In: Maßstab Beethoven? Komponistinnen im Schatten des Geniekults. Bettina Brand, Martina Helmig (ed.). München: Richard Boorberg Verlag GmbH & Co KG, 2001, p. 24-44. Quote on p. 28)

    In her memoirs, Luise Adolpha Le Beau occasionally refers back to her diaries to recount her mood during the situations she describes. Those diaries appear to be lost today. By 1914, her savings were largely used up and Le Beau moved into a smaller flat in the city, increasingly tutoring female piano students, as she had previously done in Munich and Wiesbaden. According to her own words Le Beau didn’t receive an honorarium for any of her concerts and compositions and her reviews were seldom salaried. Thus, she mainly lived of her savings. After World War I Luise Adolpha Le Beau gave regular concerts in Baden-Baden again and wrote for the paper “Badeblatt“ a serialised article about “Baden-Baden als Musikstadt“ (“Music City Baden-Baden”, printed in: Luise Adolpha Le Beau. Eine Komponistin in Baden-Baden. Stadt Baden-Baden/Kulturamt (Hg.). Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2000, p. 63 – 66)

    In 1922 Hermann Friedrich Anton Prince von Hatzfeld (1848-1933), a former student’s father, granted her a life pension. During the following year, the “Romantische Gemeinde Leipzig-Wien“ (“Romantic Community Leipzig-Vienna”) made Luise Adolpha Le Beau “Ehrenritter der blauen Blume“ (“Honorary Knight of the Blue Flower”). For her 75th birthday in April 1925 she gave a concert with her own piano pieces at the spa hotel Baden-Baden. Luise Adolpha Le Beau died at the age of 77 on 17th July 1927 in her flat in Lichtenthaler Straße 46 and was buried in the city’s main cemetery beside her parents. The Baden-Baden daily newspapers and music media took notice of this.


    Luise Adolpha Le Beau has to be appreciated as composer, educationist and critic, as music authoress and pianist. Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s position as a professional composer has to be viewed in light of the difficulties women faced in establishing themselves in this métier. Lack of contact to male or female composers of her own generation is partly due to her own decisions (permanently living with her parents, quick retreat when facing difficulties in negotiations, the unconditional rejection of potential performance opportunities following human disappointment) but mainly due to her private education and a perpetual exceptional position compared to her colleagues. Le Beau clearly reflects these difficulties in her “Memories”, however, it isn’t always possible to distinguish between social and personal reasons for her problems in asserting herself as a composer. Regarding her aesthetic perception as a composer Luise Adolpha Le Beau told Professor Georg Vierling, a member of Berlin’s „Royal Academy of Art’s“ („Berliner königlichen Akademie der Künste“) senate: “Ich betonte, daß ich keiner Partei angehöre, sondern alles anerkenne, was wirklich schön sei.“ (“I insisted that I do not belong to any party but recognise everything that is truly beautiful.” p. 193)

    Consistent with this statement, Le Beau admired the “great masters” who’s style influenced her compositions. In 1878, for example, she acquired Hector Berlioz’ instrumentation teachings by self-study and admired Richard Wagner’s works. In “Ruth” she uses free harmonics and leitmotifs to express her admiration for Wagner, as she specifically points out in her “Memories” (p. 74). She also shows herself as “Neudeutsche“ (“new German”) in the symphonic composition “Hohenbaden“ op. 43 with its elaborate instrumentation, and the string quartet op. 34, the underlying theme of which is the story of a girl fleeing her pursuers and eventually returning home. (As this work was created shortly before Le Beau’s move away from Munich and this move seems to have been her parents’ wish more than her own, the composition is sometimes seen as having an autobiographical background. However, her “Memories” don’t give any information about this.) Although she was indebted to the “Neudeutschen“ (“new Germans”) in some things, she consequently used the classical sonata form in her oeuvre and also composed the entirely “themeless” symphony f minor op. 41. She remains true to the ideals of Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in her songs with regards to converting themes and function-related harmonics. She didn’t appear as leading, innovative force, but as a composer working to her own preferences and interests.

    The extraordinary scope of her oeuvre is remarkable. “Ruth” and “Hadumoth” and of course the symphony f minor op. 41 and the symphonic composition “Hohenbaden” op. 43 break the mould as richly orchestrated works that could only be performed publicly with great effort beside established female forms of composing, such as songs and piano pieces written for one’s own instrument. Female composers not only often lacked the necessary social network to perform richly orchestrated compositions, women were also regarded as lacking the necessary skills. The necessary skills of instrumentation and formal knowledge were often deliberately kept from them, as they could not take the post of conductor and were excluded from the appropriate composing lessons at the academies. It is therefore understandable that Luise Adolpha Le Beau proudly quotes a review of her symphony by Richard Pohl in her “Memories”; he views and praises her work in the context of Beethoven’s symphonies; but at the same time modestly adds: “Ich betrachtete das Ganze als einen Versuch, mich auch auf dieses Gebiet zu wagen.“ (“I see this as an attempt to explore this area.” p. 230)

    Le Beau could perform and experience most of her works in concerts - chamber music, songs, compositions for choir and orchestra - although she always had to fight for adequate performances of her orchestral works.

    The founding of her “private music course for daughters of the educated classes” in 1878 is the first time that Luise Adolpha Le Beau mentions her teaching activities in her memoirs. Prior to this point, her own education probably took up most of her time, at least students are not mentioned. Even as a 28-year-old Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s aim was to prepare daughters of the educated classes for their later potential profession in a qualified manner. For this reason she rejected collaboration offers for her course from other, in her opinion unqualified, female tutors. Her students had to practice the piano at least two hours every day and, contrary to established music education practice for girls, received theory lessons as well. This approach had two goals. Firstly, she wanted to give the young women a solid education that would enable them to pass their acquired knowledge on for a salary. Secondly, she wanted to raise the profession of a female music tutor in public opinion. The latter was also the reason behind her joining the “Society for male and female Teachers” in Munich in 1885, which existed to protect qualified male and female music teachers. Luise Adolpha Le Beau also gave piano lessons in Wiesbaden, Berlin and Baden-Baden but her autobiography doesn’t mention the names of any students who aspired to a professional career. Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s essays “Über die musikalische Erziehung der weiblichen Jugend“ (“Regarding the musical education of female youths”) and “Die Musik als weiblicher Beruf“ (“Music as female profession”) provided the theoretical work to improve the conditions for women’s education. Improved conditions would at least enable women to acquire the same music theoretical knowledge for a professional career equal to men’s, even though their chances of securing titles or positions following their education were significantly worse than men’s due to their sex, rather than their accomplishments. Luise Adolpha Le Beau was well aware of the subtle discrimination of women in music life early on - after all she had experienced this herself as student of Josef Rheinberger, being tutored separately from the male students and thus lacking the opportunity to built a network of composers of her own age.

    While Luise Adolpha Le Beau attracted attention as a pianist when she was younger, her priority was composing early on. She hoped to even the field for female composers following her. Her liberal father carefully prepared her career. She never married and instead moved from place to place with her parents to not put this career at risk.

    Le Beau could not establish herself as leading the way for younger female colleagues due to discrimination by colleagues and musicians, rare performance opportunities for her works and purely local popularity. This very likely caused her bitterness and the retreat from public life. This, however, meant that she lost her influence on Baden-Baden’s local music life and with this her chance to actively support younger female composers.

    Luise Adolpha Le Beau studied scores and manuscripts in Munich’s and Berlin’s libraries and wrote about the composers whose works she had examined. In this context she created the Bach family tree and the essay “Componistinnen des vorigen Jahrhunderts“ (“Female Composers of the last Century”) in which she discusses Marianne von Martinez (1744-1812) as an exemple. Her “Memories” explicitly mention works by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (e.g. “Die Israeliten in der Wüste“ – “The Israelites in the Desert” H 775, “Magnificat“ H 772), by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (unspecified piano music), by Agostino Steffani (two unspecified operas), Michael Haydn (“Litanei“ for choir and orchestra), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (“Bastien und Bastienne“ KV 50), Heinrich Marschner (”Hans Heiling“ op. 80) and Franz Schubert (“Fierrabras“ D 796) that she had studied at the “Royal Library Berlin” because “vielleicht tragen diese Zeilen dazu bei, auch andere darauf aufmerksam zu machen.“ - “maybe these lines will help to draw other people’s attention to these.” (“Lebenserinnerungen“ - „Memories“, p. 196) Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s dedication to older, lesser known works and especially compositions by women is remarkable, as this also causes her to criticise how superficial contemporary musical life and newer compositions were. Her attempt to popularise female composers is an early attempt to make composing women the focus of an analysis that avoids the inherently fraud comparison to male composers.

    The pianist Le Beau had a broad repertoire of chamber music, solo works and songs and was often asked for performances and occasionally for concert tours. She was, however, not explicitly noticed as interpreter of piano concerts. Her professional piano playing also allowed her to perform scores during her efforts for concert performances to convey sound impressions. Performances of her own works would hardly have been possible without her own engagement.


    Her contemporaries often perceived Luise Adolpha Le Beau as “rühmliche Ausnahme unter den Damen“ (“creditable exception amongst ladies”) (“Lebenserinnerungen“ - “Memories”, p. 60), as she composed large instrumental forms that were considered beyond the scope of women’s abilities. Following the premiere of her symphony op. 41 a review by her sympathiser Richard Pohl in the paper “Badener Badeblatt“ states: “Eine Symphonie von einer Dame haben wir noch nicht gehört; sie dürfte auch ein Unikum sein. Der Grund liegt in dieser Kunstform selbst.“ (“We have never heard a symphony by a lady; it is probably unique. The reason is in the art form itself.” Quoted from “Lebenserinnerungen“ - “Memories”, p. 230)

    There is hardly a review of her compositions that fails to mention how extraordinarily male Luise Adolpha Le Beau compositions were (see Martina Rebmann, “Luise Adolpha Le Beau. Lebenserinnerungen einer Komponistin. Gestaltete Biographie – geformte Erinnerung“. In: Musik in Baden-Württemberg, Jahrbuch, Gabriele Busch-Salmen, Walter Salmen and Markus Zepf (ed), München 14, 2007, p. 49-71. p. 58). There was the widespread opinion that her piano playing was less virtuoso and brilliant but that she interpreted solidly and tastefully. Luise Adolpha Le Beau quotes some of these reviews in her “Memories”, for example one printed in the “Mainzer Tageblatt“ 1887 about her part in “Fantasie für Klavier und Orchester” (“Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra”) op. 25: “Frl. Le Beau ist zugleich eine Pianistin von tüchtiger Schulung und gutem Geschmack.“ (“Miss Le Beau is equally a pianist of capable training and good taste.” See “Lebenserinnerungen“ - “Memories”, p. 153)

    Even in her own lifetime articles about her were included in conversation- and women’s dictionaries. Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s problem with finding recognition as a composer is sometimes clearly mirrored there; for example Hugo Riemann’s “Musik-Lexikon“ (“Music Dictionary”) states: “Le Beau, Luise Adolpha. […], tüchtige Pianistin und geachtete Musiklehrerin. Als talentierte Komponistin trat sie auf mit Orchester- und Kammermusikwerken.“ (“Le Beau, Luise Adolpha. […], capable pianist and respected music teacher. As talented composer she performed with orchestra and chamber music compositions.” Hugo Riemann, Musik-Lexikon von Hugo Riemann. Sechste, vollständig umgearbeitete Auflage. Leipzig: Max Hesses Verlag, 1905. p. 750)

    There are now a number of scientific papers about the composer that deal with the chamber music or more richly orchestrated works by Luise Adolpha Le Beau. Biographical essays mostly draw on her “Memories”, however, from her self-representation, the papers reach different conclusions regarding her actual position in musical life. It is debatable whether her tendency to quickly withdraw after disappointment and invest hardly any money in distributing her orchestral works in particular are the reasons for her unpopularity, which in turn led to her later bitterness.

    Recordings and new editions of Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s works are presently restricted to piano- and chamber music as well as some songs. During her lifetime, mainly songs as well as chamber-, piano- and choir music Luise Adolpha Le Beau had written up to the mid-1870s was published. Later and richly orchestrated works were not often published and for the most part remain unpublished until today. The only exception are the “Biblischen Szenen“ (“Biblical Scenes”) and (“Ruth“), that were published 1885 in Leipzig by Kahnt (there has, however, not been a re-issue of these either). Le Beau’s complete piano music was first published in two volumes in 2001.

    List of works




    Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s inheritance is kept in the Badischen Landesbibliothek (Baden State Library) Karlsruhe, where it was partially destroyed by fire. Another part of her estate, especially scores, were recovered by pianist Maria Bergmann. The Badische Landesbibliothek Karlsruhe still holds Le Beau’s “Übersicht der Versendung meiner Kompositionen angefangen 1873“ [-1926] - (“register of my compositions’ distribution started 1873”), her travel diaries as well as letters exchanged with publishers

    (Sign. K2336, K2337, K2338, K2339, K2340, K2341, K2342, K2343, K2344, K2345, K2346, K2347, K4000). The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Musikabteilung mit Mendelssohn-Archiv) (‘Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage’ - Music Section with Mendelssohn-Archive) holds 79 volumes of Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s compositions in autograph she personally bequeathed the institution (Sign. Mus. ms. Autogr. L. A. Le Beau 1-79 M), 14 letters in her own hand (Sign. Mus. ep. L. A. Le Beau 1-14) as well as 4 volumes of reviews of Le Beau’s compositions she collated (Sign. Dl 129 rara). The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München (Bavarian State Library Munich) holds the published works and copies of Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s compositions, a collection of essays (Sign. Mus. th. 299) and some letters (Sign. Mus. mss. 11832, Mus. mss. 5234, Mus. mss. 13136). A letter by Luise Adolpha Le Beau to Joseph Joachim is kept in the Staatlichen Institut für Musikforschung (State Institute for Music Research) Berlin (Sign. SM 12/25). The University Library (Universitätsbibliothek) Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt-Main holds a letter by Luise Adolpha Le Beau to Jakob Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf. A register of contemporary reviews of Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s concerts and compositions can be found in: Ulrike B. Keil. Luise Adolpha Le Beau und ihre Zeit. Untersuchungen zu ihrem Kammermusikstil zwischen Traditionalismus und „Neudeutscher Schule“ (= Europäische Hochschulschriften: Reihe 36, Musikwissenschaft, Bd. 150). Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang, 1996. p. 291–296. The historical collection of the Baden-Baden Stadtmuseum und -archiv (Town Museum and Archive) holds newspaper clippings about the composer.

    Need for research

    Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s songs and piano works have hardly been discussed in musicological literature so far. Neither has her pedagogic work and her significance for the musical education of girls in the 19th century. Her memoirs should be analysed in comparison to other contemporary sources or reports.


    Virtual International Authority File (VIAF): 62355165
    Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (GND): 11929138X
    Library of Congress (LCCN): n89622552


    Annika Forkert, 14.04.2010

    Translation: Nancy Schuman


    Redaktion: Regina Back
    Zuerst eingegeben am 19.04.2010
    Zuletzt bearbeitet am 04.12.2018

    Empfohlene Zitierweise

    Annika Forkert, Artikel „Luise Adolpha Le Beau“ (English version, translated by Nancy Schuman), in: MUGI. Musikvermittlung und Genderforschung: Lexikon und multimediale Präsentationen, hg. von Beatrix Borchard und Nina Noeske, Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, 2003ff. Stand vom 4.12.2018
    URL: http://mugi.hfmt-hamburg.de/Artikel/Luise_Adolpha_Le_Beau