From Transcendental Summer Camps in Lenox, MA, to
World-Renowned Stages in Europe and America, to the Australian Outback and Beyond
Born and raised between a remote cattle station in the Australian outback and high political society in Canberra, Australia, Emili Rackemann’s compositions reflect her diverse upbringing and centuries of musical history in her family; she is a direct descendant of pianists Professor Frederic Rackemann and his brother, Ludwig of Germany.
The Rackemann Brothers Piano Virtuoso Spans Continents During the 1800s
Emili’s innate being as a pianist may be explained by her ancestors’ expertise. Professor Frederic Rackemann and brother Ludwig of Germany were highly renowned for their exquisite performances in the United States and Germany during the mid-nineteenth century. In 1839, pianist Ludwig Rackemann was one of the first German pianists to tour America, causing a sensation performing works by Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. In 1842, Ludwig's brother Frederic was also captivating European audiences, playing triple concertos with Felix Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann. Critic Henry Watson observed Frederic's "great power and stretch of finger" and declared that the 21-year-old eclipsed all other New York pianists, including his brother. Escaping the notoriety of a public feud with rival Robert Schumann, Ludwig Rackemann emigrated to the U.S. in 1839. He had supported Clara Wieck's (Schumann) father in his legal effort to stop the teenaged Clara from marrying the charismatic Schumann.
Frederic Rackemann Settles Down in Lenox, Massachusetts
When the Rackemann’s mother died in Bremen in 1842, younger brother Frederic joined Ludwig in New York; and befriended the well-respected critic and feminist Margaret Fuller. At the time, Frederic Rackemann often performed by invitation in New York and Boston at private concerts aside from his touring schedule in America and Germany. During this period, he was also introduced to the Sedgwick and Haggerty families of Massachusetts and was soon drawn to settle in the beautiful town of Lenox, later marrying Elizabeth Sedgwick in 1855. Rackemann taught piano in New York City during the winters and Lenox during summers, although he still continued traveling abroad on tour throughout the year.
Upon cementing his ties to Lenox, Frederic embarked on several building projects, The Brook Farm Inn being one of three which hosted Transcendental summer camps organized by him and Margaret Fuller. With famous guests such as philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, American author and poet William George Curtis, and Margaret Fuller herself, the enterprise was considered an ‘unspeakable folly’ by the conservative Unitarian circle of Boston.
A Century and a Half Later: Emili Rackemann’s Music Emergence
From a very young age, Emili Rackemann’s mind grasped onto the world of music. Rural life was demanding, although her evening concerts helped everyone calm and prepare for the next day. Rackemann later went on to study at the Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Australia. She has since recorded seven albums and composed over 140 original compositions ranging from classical to contemporary in genre. Rackemann’s music is not easily categorized, although words used to describe it include meditative, contemplative, melancholy, wistful and elegiac—she views her role as a composer as a storyteller. Stories as eclectic as cultural history, spirituality, enchantment and childhood fuel her creativity to further explore the piano’s diversity of sound. Composition can happen in different ways for Rackemann. She improvises at the piano, invents melodies in her mind but also hears them while out in nature.
With Emili’s passion to retrace the steps of her long-lost ancestors, in 2013 she travelled to Massachusetts where she performed at the Venfort Mansion in Lenox, hosted by author and historian Cornelia Gilder. Fortunate to stay at Frederic Rackemann’s Brook Farm Inn, Emili found herself immersed in the beauty of the Poet’s Room for a period of time where she wrote stories and composed seven compositions towards her contemporary album titled “One”, including “Faces of Lenox”, a simple and delicate work which portrays the history of her ancestors and Lenox itself.
When Emili arrived at the Poet’s Room at Brook Farm Inn, a huge wave of emotion enveloped her. The pristine view of native trees outside her window drew her in, encouraging contemplation and meditation. She also journaled her thoughts for “One.”
“To sit in a room (the Poet’s Room) with so much history following a performance on the famous Carl Jung’s Bösendorfer piano can only be described as beautiful,” Emili has said.
Emili Rackemann will perform this year at multiple events in Australia and soon embark on a tour of the United States. Check her web site event listings for updates and information.