Who was Fanny Hünerwadel, one might ask? She was a very promising singer, pianist and composer born in January 1826 in Lenzburg. Both her parents loved music and her initial teacher was her mother. As she grew and showed more promise, she was allowed to perform in the choir or even as a piano player.
Aged 20, she found financial support from her uncle, Johann J. Speerli, who was a rich banker. Contemporary composers such as Müller and Baumgartner promoted her talents and encouraged her to take part in several Zürich Concert Nights. She had a very kind heart, and visits to Zürich's mental homes were part of her itinerary, where she tried to help the inmates through her musical gifts. In 1851, Fanny travelled to Paris and London to further her studies. In 1853, she went to Italy for an extended educational tour but unfortunately, shortly before returning to Switzerland, she contacted typhoid and died in Rome in 1854, aged just 28.
Between 1852 and 1853, Fanny made it a habit of asking various contemporary musicians to compose an autographed piece for her to include in her musical album. The first part of this disc (Tracks 1-16) comprises works by such famous names as Wagner and Liszt, but even pieces by less important composers such as Ernst Kalliwoda and Vieuxtemps have a certain tender beauty reflecting the fragility of this little flower that seemed to enchant all who met her.
Part 2 is dedicated to seven of Fanny's songs, while a further six by William Baumgartner dedicated to her form the third part of this magical album, irresistibly performed by both singers and players. A beguiling disc, overflowing with a sweetness that makes the senses reel with the perfume of perpetual youth.
Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech