On her latest CD, guitarist Heike Matthiesen presents music written by female composers of the nineteenth century. This may sound a bit dry, but we can promise, it isn’t at all. That’s because Matthiesen has not only unearthed some truly thrilling and hitherto entirely unknown works, but the com-posers’ biographies are equally interesting.
Pure musical women power! That’s one way to describe the program which Heike Matthiesen has put together here. It begins with the guitarist herself: originally a pianist, she only discovers her love for guitar at age eighteen and ends up studying with guitar legend Pepe Romero. This already says a lot about the guitarist, who has long become a revered figure in the guitar scene. With her newest CD, she underscores this reputation once more, musically of course, but also in terms of repertoire. Because what Matthiesen has brought to light here has truly never been heard before.
This is changing, though: Many names of female composers by now are at least known, and their works are being performed more and more often. In the 19th century, that was different. Social conditions stunted the careers of many female musicians, and even just going to music school was not possible for a long time. Women often only received a very surface-level musical education. But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule. Four of these outstanding exceptions have been compiled by Heike Matthiesen on her new CD.
Emilia Guiliani, for example, was taught by the legendary composer and virtuosi Mauro Giuliani, and she began performing as a child both as soloist and in a duo with her father. After she married composer and voice teacher Luigi Guglielmi, she continued her concert career. Or take Madame Sidney Pratten, born 1821 as Catharina Pelzer in Cologne. She was likewise taught by her father, performed concerts as a Wunderkind also as a duo with Giulio Regondi, who
later became a legendary composer himself. Both had impressive careers, and Pratten was even considered the beldam of the British guitar scene. About Anne Emmerich, we know very little. Maria Dolores de Goñi build a successful career in the United States, under her stage name Madame Knoop. With her new recording, Heike Matthiesen makes sure that these four female composers finally receive the attention they deserve.
A charismatic stage performance paired with overflowing joy of playing: Heike Matthiesen is an exceptional musician in today’s guitar world. The press writes about her using superlatives: “guitar music to die for,“ “world class,“ “wonderful.“ In 2016, she published her CD Guitar Ladies, exclusively featuring works by female composers, several world premieres, and also pieces dedicated to her. Some of the biggest highlights of the last years were her performances in the Leipzig Gewandhaus and at the
Salzburger Festspiele. Concerts as soloist and chamber musician have led Matthiesen through all of Europe as well as countries like China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Japan, Equatorial Guinea, and the United States.
Heike Matthiesen is always a welcome guest at guitar festivals all over the world. She has an exceptional curriculum vitae in the classical music scene: Born into a family of musicians, she received piano lessons in her early childhood, then switched to guitar at age eighteen, and began her studies at the Frankfurter Musikhochschule just a year later. After another two years, she began playing at the Opernorchester Frankfurt and became a thought-after chamber musician. She enjoys a long collaboration with the Villa Musica Mainz. After completing her diploma, she became master student of Pepe Romero’s, who supported her in becoming a world class soloist. The four CDs which she has since recorded are further testament to her wide musical scope.
Prompted by her research for her latest CD Guitar Ladies, she has become an engaged volunteer for the Archiv Frau und Musik in Frankfurt, which holds the world-wide largest collection of works by female composers. This exceptional musician represents a new type of artist: Communicative, polyglot, and internet-savvy, she holds up a direct line of communi-cation with her fans through her social media accounts and thus engages in an ambassadorial role for classical music and guitar.
“A charismatic guitarist who conjures romantic, atmospheric images from the soul.“
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung