Saturday, June 18, 2016

Parents of Musicians

Originally published by Polonius Sheet Music
In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to write about musician's parents. Parents have had a huge impact on many musical geniuses, often giving their children crucial support and training. I've written before about the huge influence J.S. Bach had on his talented crop of children, and many other parents have likewise shaped their children's careers. Shinichi Suzuki, among other great pedagogues, considered parents' engagement in students' lessons critical to their success.

Many talented musicians grew up in homes where music was considered a necessary part of their education. Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn's parents paid for extensive musical training, especially once it became clear how talented they were, and their father helped Felix publish his first pieces. If Fanny was discouraged by her father from pursuing music professionally, he did still see to it that she had training and opportunities to learn it, and her mother encouraged her to compose when she was depressed. Wolfgang and Nannerl Mozart's father, while a difficult and manipulative man, also invested significant time and energy into training his talented offspring. He took them on grand tours of Europe and introducing them to potential royal patrons and the finest musicians of their time. Likewise, Franz Liszt's father was a musician in the court of Prince Nikolaus II Esterhazy. He knew Hadyn and Beethoven personally, and began teaching his son piano at the age of seven. His father's support earned Liszt a prestigious musical education and helped to support his first tour.

Johan Strauss I, on the other hand, was a mixed blessing for his son. He bequeath his son, Johan Strauss II, a prestigious family name and extensive musical contacts, and when he died the young Strauss took over his father's famous and beloved touring orchestra. But the older Strauss did not want his son in the family business, perhaps because he wished for him a quiet, stable, respectable life. He famously punished his son when he found him playing music. But young Strauss' mother supported her son and nurtured his talent, giving him training and support while the older Strauss was on tour and later after he left his family for his mistress.


Few young musicians have the ability to develop their craft without support from one or both of their parents (or at the very least, a generous uncle). Parents can play a crucial role in nurturing genius, by providing their children with lessons and encouragement. So this Father's Day, let's consider the role that supportive parents have played in musical history!

1 comment:

  1. I can understand this for sure. Becoming a good musician takes time and dedication and unless your parents or a parent is behind you, it could be very hard to justify the effort. Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

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