About Mathilde von Kralik:
Born (Dec. 3, 1857) into a highly cultured and musically accomplished upper-class family, she took on the “official” full name of Mathilde Aloisia Kralik von Meyrswalden after the Austrian Emperor elevated her father, a wealthy Bohemian industrialist, to the minor nobility as Wilhelm Kralik Ritter von Meyrswalden. Louise, her mother, provided her early piano training; and the entire family made music at home together. After moving to Vienna in 1870, Mathilde’s parents saw to it that their precocious daughter studied with the very finest musical pedagogues — including private counterpoint lessons with Anton Bruckner, who was later one of her professors after she was admitted to the Vienna Conservatory in 1876. While there, she became a part of the musical circle that included Gustav Mahler.
After completing her formal studies there with great distinction in just two years, Mathilde and her older brother and champion, Richard – a noted poet, philosopher and cultural historian – soon rose to the forefront of Vienna’s artistic life. She was particularly close to Richard, as reflected in the fact that 17 of this album’s 26 selections are settings of his poetry. Despite being trapped in an era of pervasive, male-dominated artistic chauvinism, Mathilde soon established her reputation as a pianist and composer of particular ability. The siblings’ regular musical and literary “salons” consistently attracted the city’s intelligentsia and artistic elite. Even Eduard Hanslick, the notoriously vicious Viennese critic, found Mathilde to be “…a genuine, original talent which …holds great promise for the future.”
While she composed in multiple genres, she was best known during her lifetime for her smaller-scale works like Lieder, piano and chamber music, and sacred choral pieces. Her larger-scale works were seldom heard, one exception being her fairy-tale opera, Blume und Weiβblume: one of her three works in that genre (an aria from it is included in this program). She remained musically active throughout her long life, though her deeply romantic style went out of fashion as the twentieth century unfolded.
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