von Paradis, Maria Theresia

Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759–1824), Austria

Composer and pianist. Blind from an early age. She was the daughter of the Imperial Secretary of Commerce and Court Councilor to the Empress Maria Theresa, her namesake. The Empress paid for her comprehensive musical and general education by a series of distinguished teachers. In 1775 she began performing as a singer and pianist in the concert halls and salons of Vienna. It was said that she could play at least 60 sonatas and concertos from memory. Such composers as Salieri, Mozart, and Haydn wrote music for her.

In 1793 she began composing piano pieces and pieces for voice and keyboard accompaniment. By 1797 she had written at least five operas and three cantatas. In 1808 she started her own music school where she taught piano, voice, and theory, mostly to young girls. She taught until her death in 1824.