Born: March 24, 1867 - Amsterdam, Holland
Died: November 26, 1950 - Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA
The Dutch composer, pianist and teacher, Martinus Sieveking, was born into a musical family. His mother was an opera singer and her maiden name was "De Jong", and he studied piano first with his father. Later he studied under Julius Röntgen and was the piano accompanist for the Lamoueux Orchestra in Paris. He studied composition and orchestration under Franz Coenen.
Martinus Sieveking began his career as an accompanist. He travelled with Adelina Patti on her tour of England in 1891-1892. In 1895-1896 He then settled in the USA, and became an accomplished composer, music teacher and concert pianist. He became famous for his large hands and his "reach" (spread over the octive) of the keys. Having a handsome looks did not hurt his popularity at the time. He was also tall and spoke with a cultured and charming European accent. He became a great friend of famed Ziegfeld performer and bodybuilder Eugen Sandow and wrote music for Sandow's performances. Sandow got him interested in physical culture and he developed a powerful physique. Sieveking is refered to in Sandow's biography by David L. Chapman and in the novel "Lost Horizon". He was invited to many fine parties and galas in New York City, which he apparently loved attending. He gave a celebrated concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1895 where he played the Camille Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto in G Minor and also gave a solo piano recital at Carnegie Hall, New York City on December 8, 1896. He also performed in Atlanta (Georgia) at the Grand Opera House a few days later on December 17 with violinist Maud Powell. He gave a solo piano recital at the Academy of Music in Allentown, Pennsylvania on March 2, 1897 and again on November 18, 1897.
Martinus Sieveking went back to England and was married to an educated Austrian lady, born in Vienna named Therese (1881-1961) in June 1899 in Dover, Kent, England. They moved to Paris where they lived together. About 1904, they had a son named Leonard (or Leo). He was born in St. Brio, France. At the age of 40, on January 30, 1916, Sieveking arrived in New York from Rotterdam, Holland on the S.S. Rotterdam and started a piano school for senior level pianists in New York. He announced a new method which guaranteed to achieve virtuosity in 24 months. He was an advocate of The Dead-Weight Principle style of playing and he wrote articles about the subject for several publications. Not very successful in New York, he went to California, where he found a fertile field for his quick road to virtuosity for everybody.
Though some of his many charming compositions are best described as salon music, Martinus Sieveking also wrote serious works that display amazing invention and which are infused with powerful rhythm. Some of his compositions are: Etude De Concert, Sketch, Moto Perpetuo, Souffrance, Valse de Concert, Nocturne, Variations et Fugue, Cornemuse, Praeludium, and L'Angelus. It is generally believed the one musical composition credited to Sandow entitled March of the Athletes is clearly the work of Sieveking. Besides composing piano music, Martinus Sieveking would arrange and perform other famous compositions especially arranged for piano rolls in player pianos, many of these piano rolls are found in antique shops today. He arranged a number of Frédéric Chopin's piano pieces and those versions have become the "standard" which are performed regularly to this day.