JOHANNE AMALIE STOCKMARR
Johanne Amalie Stockmarr’s father and uncle were both members of the Royal Danish Orchestra, her father Ferdinand playing the violin and her uncle the clarinet. Her mother was also very musical and an accomplished pianist. Johanne’s first piano teacher was her cousin Anna, but from the age of fifteen, her piano teacher at the Royal Academy was Edvard Helsted. At the same institution she studied history of music with Niels Gade and music theory with J.P.E. Hartmann.
At her public debut, Stockmarr played Anton Rubinstein’s Piano Quintet in G minor Op. 99 with members of the Royal Danish Orchestra as well as some solos by Chopin. The performance took place in Copenhagen and was so successful that Stockmarr was granted enough financial support for her to study in Paris for a year with Henri Fissot. On her return to Denmark, Stockmarr continued her piano studies with cellist and composer Franz Neruda who introduced her to a stimulating world of chamber music and chamber musicians. One of Neruda’s sisters married Charles Hallé, becoming Lady Hallé, and it was with her that Stockmarr toured Scandinavia, Germany and England at the turn of the new century. At her London debut, which took place at the Queen’s Hall, Stockmarr played Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16 with the composer conducting; she returned the following year to play the Burleske for piano and orchestra by Richard Strauss. For the 1910 Proms she played César Franck’s Variations Symphoniques with the Queen’s Hall Orchestra and Henry Wood, and continued to appear in London until the outbreak of World War I. Stockmarr returned in 1920 to give the first performance in London of a piano concerto by Wilhelm Stenhammar and continued to tour, appearing frequently in London between the wars.
Stockmarr was made pianist to the Royal Danish Court and when in London would play duets with Queen Alexandra, who before her marriage was a member of the Danish royal family. Having taught from 1899, she later took a position at the Royal Danish Academy of Music where she continued to teach until her death. She was a founding member of the Danish Society of Music Teaching, the Danish Society of Musicology and the Danish Society of Musicians. Her honours included the Royal Order Reward of the First Degree with Crown, and the Mecklenburg Gold Merit Cross.
With a repertoire that was basically nineteenth-century, Stockmarr mainly played Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Liszt as well as some Mozart and Scarlatti. Her concerto repertoire included works by Beethoven, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, whose Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major Op. 44 she introduced to Denmark in 1898.
Palmgren’s The Sea, coupled with Grieg’s Norwegian Bridal Procession Op. 19 No. 2, was Stockmarr’s first recording, made in 1926 for Danish HMV. On one of her regular visits to London, she recorded for Columbia around 1929. Only two sides were issued, Chopin’s Berceuse Op. 57 and Palmgren’s Tarantella. Stockmarr did not return to the recording studio until 1942, two years before her death, but from this period come her most important HMV recordings including Mozart’s Piano Sonata in E flat major K. 282, Beethoven’s ‘Les Adieux’ Sonata Op. 81a, a Bach prelude from the G minor English Suite and encores by Chopin and Dohnányi. Her style is one of clarity and flexibility that sounds most convincing in her recordings of Beethoven. All of these discs were reissued on compact disc by Danacord in the late 1990s in their series Great Danish Women Pianists.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Jonathan Summers (A–Z of Pianists, Naxos 8.558107–10).