Music with Minnesotans

Music with Minnesotans: LaWayne Leno

Music with Minnesotans: LaWayne Leno


September 17, 2013
LaWayne Leno
LaWayne Leno studied with two of Adele aus der Ohe's students and was inspired to write a book after hearing stories of this remarkable woman who wasn't even living in the footnotes of musical history.
Photo courtesy the artist

Her story reads like a fairy tale.

She was a prodigy who caught the attention of Franz Liszt, came to America and blew everyone away — opening the seasons of Carnegie Hall, the Schubert Club and the Minnesota Orchestra.

She wore the most beautiful clothes, was invited to the fanciest parties, was feted by aristocracy and anyone who was anyone at the turn-of-the-century, including Tchaikovsky.

The Untold Story of Adele aus der Ohe
Adele aus der Ohe, from a Liszt student to a virtuoso
Beaver's Pond Press

It would be safe to say she was a star along the lines of Angelina Jolie.

But the end was not happily-ever-after for this princess of the piano, Adele aus der Ohe, who today has been all but been forgotten.

That is until now, when a part-time pianist stumbled upon her glittering life and preserved it in a book. LaWayne Leno tells Adele aus der Ohe's story vividly, in colorful detail and with such tenderness. While all of musical importance is intact and academic, this is a book for anyone interested in a the story of a woman finding international success as a performing artist in the man's world of the 19th century.

German-born Adele aus der Ohe was one of the richest women in America.

But she worked hard for the money. For weeks on end she toured, learning dozens of concertos and solo works for entire seasons of recitals. She performed with a dignity and self-assured bravado, despite exhaustion due to trans-Atlantic voyages and week-long train travels lugging massive trunks.

Her story does not end happily. She found herself stranded in Germany during the war, unable to return to the life that she had created in America. Eventually, as a result of hyper-inflation, her wealth dwindled to nothing.

Nevertheless she inspires, and LaWayne Leno has done us a real service sharing her life as well as the music that was so dear to this most special woman.

LaWayne Leno's playlist:

Franz Liszt, Liebestraum - Eugen d'Albert

Franz Liszt, Piano Concerto - Oxana Yablonskaya/Moscow Philharmonic

Arthur Foote, Five Poems after Omar Khayyam - Virginia Eskin

Piano Concerto No. 1: 2nd Movement - Martha Argerich/Berlin Philharmonic

Franz Liszt, Orage - Reid Smith

Christopher Hopkins
Christopher Hopkins
Photo courtesy the artist

Next week, our guest is Christopher Hopkins, The Makeover Guy. He's a singer, stylist and you guessed it, he gives this friendly Face-for-Radio a makeover.