Maria Antonia of Austria (1724–1780)

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Maria Antonia of Austria (1724–1780)

Princess of Bavaria, electress of Saxony, and German composer, pianist, harpsichordist, poet, singer, composer, and patron of the arts . Name variations: Maria Antonia Walpurgis; (pseudonym) ETPA (Ermelinda Talea Pastorella Arcada). Born in Munich, Germany, on July 18, 1724; died in Dresden on April 23, 1780; daughter of Karl Albert also known as Charles VII Albert (1697–1745), elector of Bavaria (r. 1726–1745), later known as Charles VII, Holy Roman emperor (r. 1742–1745); sister of Maximilian III Joseph, elector of Bavaria (r. 1745–1777); married Friedrich Christian also known as Frederick Christian (1722–1763), elector of Saxony (r. 1763), on June 20, 1747; children: Frederick Augustus III (1750–1827), elector of Saxony (r. 1763–1806), also known as Frederick Augustus I the Just, king of Saxony (r. 1806–1827); Anthony Clement I (1755–1836), king of Saxony (r. 1827–1836); Maximilian (b. 1759), duke of Saxony (who married Caroline of Parma ).

Princess Maria Antonia of Austria showed many talents at an early age. Giovanni Ferrandini, director of the electorate's chamber music group, taught her piano. After her marriage to Frederick Christian, elector of Saxony, in 1747, she studied composition and singing with Nicola Porpora and Johan Adolf Hasse. A writer and poet, she composed her own music and libretto for operas in which she sang, while some of her works were set to music by Graun, Ferrandini, Hasse, Risteri, and Nauman. Maria Antonia was also a painter, rendering her own self-portrait, and a patron of the arts. As a result of her support, Gluck produced his Orpheus and Euridice in Munich. This innovative work marked the beginning of a reform in the operatic world.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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