In the late nineteenth century, the violinist Camilla Urso (1840-1902) was widely recognized as the preeminent female violinist in the United States. As a nationally famous celebrity, Urso became a pedagogue and role model to subsequent generations of female violinists. Both the wide-ranging geographic spread of Urso’s career and her direct advocacy for women violinists played a pivotal role in changing cultural ideals of violin performance from a militant and masculine bravura tradition into a fashionable pursuit for young women. A classmate of HenrykWieniawski (1835-1880) and a concert rival of the Norwegian virtuoso Ole Bull (1810-1880), Urso’s career rested on the shoulders of the nineteenth century bravura tradition. In her own playing, Urso merged virtuosic works with a feminine sensitivity creating a celebrity persona of the “The Queen of the Violin,” while also redefining gender norms of violin performance for women. First, this paper will examine Urso’s celebrity through two contrasting concerts, one in 1852 and the other in 1885, that illustrate the development of her repertoire and shed light on the world on the nineteenth century concert artist. Secondly, this paper will explore Urso’s role as a pedagogue through her professorship at the National Conservatory of Music, her connection to the New York Women’s String Orchestra, and her own published writings. Through her performance and teaching, Urso profoundly changed the possibilities for women violinists at the turn of the twentieth century.
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Nagel-Frazel, Maeve; Meyer Frazier, Petra; and Banducci, Antonia
"Making the Violin Fashionable: Gender and Virtuosity in the Life of Camilla Urso,"
DU Undergraduate Research Journal Archive: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.du.edu/duurj/vol2/iss1/3