Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824) was a remarkable figure in music history, for not only did she attain significant triumphs as both a composer and performer -- rare enough achievements for a woman living in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe -- but she had to cope with the dreadful handicap of blindness. She was born in Vienna on May 15, 1759. Her father, Joseph Anton von Paradis, was Imperial Secretary of Commerce under Empress Maria Theresia, after whom young Maria was named. When Maria was two she began losing her eyesight, and by the age of five she was blind. She studied with Antonio Salieri (who composed an organ concerto for her 1773), Leopold Kozeluch, and Karl Frieberth. Treatments by Anton Mesmer in 1776-1777 offered hope her vision might partially be restored, but after 1777 she had to resign herself to a life of total blindness.
By this time she had already established a career as a pianist and singer in Viennese concert halls and salons. Moreover, she had gained respect from the most prominent composers and musicians of the day, including Mozart. By some accounts, his Piano Concerto No. 18 (K. 456) was written for her.
This famous piece was "new" to me, until last weekend, a bride-to-be asked me if I would play it at her wedding. I knew that I had it in a book called "Ceremonial Music" (Oxford), and this is it, the arrangement done by Robert Gower.
I chose Utrecht because of it's flowing sound and acoustic. The trick was getting a sound that would "emulate" the solo string instrument, while giving enough dynamic expression, etc. I finally found a way to get a nice sound, but had to settle for playing the accompaniment on the Roerfluit 4' of the Rugwerk an octave lower... ;-)
Once again, I've included the MIDI file for those who enjoy them... ;-)