Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Teresina Tua

Teresina Tua (Maria Felicita Tua) was an Italian violinist born (in Turin) on May 22, 1867.  Her date of birth is somewhat vague – she may also have been born on April 23, 1866.  For a time, she was called the “violin fairy” for her angelic face and good looks.  However, her fame did not last into the twentieth century.  She studied at the Paris Conservatory with Joseph Lambert Massart, taking a first prize in violin at the age of thirteen.  In 1882, she toured Germany.  She played in London, England for the first time on May 5, 1883.  It has been said that in Europe, everywhere she played, she created a sensation.  She very successfully toured all of Europe and Russia.  One source states that in Russia, in the fall of 1885, her accompanist was none other than Sergei Rachmaninoff.  He was not impressed with her playing but shared the stage with her for three months.  Stating that she did not play particularly well, he went on to say that "as an artist, she is not serious, but she has talent."  Soon after touring the U.S. – in 1887 – she gave up her public stage life altogether.  A review of one of her performances in New York (New York Times, October 18, 1887) was fairly typical of the reception she received in this country.  After her debut performance in New York on October 17, 1887, the reviewer pointed out (among other shortcomings) that “Her enunciation of rapid passages is often unfinished and at times absolutely unintelligible, and her double stopping is frequently distressing to the acute ear.”  The reviewer also noted that Tua seemed to want to beguile her listeners with her looks rather than with her playing.  After she returned to Europe, Tua seemed to gradually lose interest in concertizing further but devoted some of her time to teaching.  It also didn’t help that in 1889, she married a wealthy member of the nobility – Giuseppe Franchi Verney.  When he died, she married another aristocrat – Emilio Quadrigo.  Her economic incentive to keep playing– if there had ever been one – was thus destroyed.  A similar thing happened to Johanna Martzy.  Another now-obscure violinist (and Tua's contemporary), Arma Senkrah, also gave up playing in public after marrying an attorney in Weimar.   Her ultimate fate, however, was very dissimilar.  According to a usually reliable source, from 1885 until about 1935, Tua played a Stradivarius constructed in 1708.  From 1909 forward, she owned and played a 1709 Stradivarius – now in a museum in Turin – given to her by a British friend and patron (Ludwig Mond) via his will.  In 1940, she entered a convent and was obliged to give this violin up.  She was 74 years old.  Tua died on October 29, 1956, at age 90, largely forgotten. 

3 comments:

  1. This is the last post for 2011. Tomorrow is another day and another year. I will start it out with Regina Strinasacchi.

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  2. I have a violin that belonged to my dad and it has a picture of Teresina Tua pasted to the top of the case. I was wondering if this violin could be one of hers. Can you help me? Thanks.

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    1. I'm six months late with my response but I hope I can still help you with this question, especially if the violin is the real thing. Please email me at pronetoviolins@gmail.com. Thank you Beth Ann.

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