Louise Farrenc ( 1804 – 1875) was a French composer, virtuoso pianist and teacher. She studied piano from a young age, and after becoming interested in composing she applied for the prestigious Paris Conservatory, aged 15. She became one of a handful of 19th century women who enjoyed success during their time, rising to prominence in the male dominated world of 19th century music by virtue of her talent and her family’s encouragement and support.
Despite not having the popular profile or pay of her male composer counterparts, Louise Farrenc never gave up writing music. She often protested to the authorities, trying to gain equality for nearly a decade. Louise eventually won her battle for equal pay. In 1842 she became the only woman to be appointed to the position of professor at the Paris Conservatory in the 19th century – the only such appointment for a woman for the entire 19th century.
In 1830, Farrenc produced an important collection of 30 etudes for solo piano. An etude is a short musical composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player. Farrenc wrote these etudes in all the major and minor key signatures. Key signatures show the key in which the music has been written. The choice of key signature sets the tone for a piece of music.