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Dances, Waltzes, and Serenades: Salon Piano Music by Ionian Composers

‘The very most that can be expected of music for girls is that it isn’t totally bad’.1 This statement by an anonymous reviewer of Bidenbenz’s Leichte Klavierstücke in 1799 could summarize the music world’s assessment for the vast majority of music compositions aimed to be performed by women throughout Europe, from the end of eighteenth until the first decades of the twentieth century. The term “Salon music” that is frequently used to describe music performed in the nineteenth century upper class salons is neither musicologically accurate nor exclusively associated with music for women. However, its usual pejorative implication often refers to music that is gentle, intimate, and sentimental – qualities customarily associated with the fair sex; albeit the occasional superficial brilliance required the contribution of a skilled performer.