Mary Wurm
1860–1938

Mary Wurm

Mary Wurm was a pianist and composer, born in England to German parents. She grew up in a musical family: her father was a music teacher, her mother was a violinist, and her younger sisters Adele, Alice, and Matilde also went on to have considerable careers as pianists. As a child Mary Wurm studied piano with Clara Schumann and composition with Arthur Sullivan and Charles Villiers Stanford. In addition to working as a composer and pianist, she was active as a conductor—she founded and conducted the first ever women’s orchestra in 1898 and toured with them until 1900—and she wrote the words to many of her songs, as with one of the pieces featured on this site, “Herzlieb’ Kind” (Dear Child). Her published songs, as well as many other works, are available via the Berlin State Library, some in digital form. None of her works have been professionally recorded, until now.

Additional Resources

Relatively little has been written about Mary Wurm, but here are two entries about her in a couple of music dictionaries:

  • Burton, Nigel. “Wurm, Mary.” Grove Music Online, edited by Deane Root. Also published in The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers, edited by Julie Anne Sadie, 503–4. London: Macmillan, 1996.
  • Oliver, Antje, and Sevgi Braun. “Wurm, Mary J. A.” In Komponistinnen aus 800 Jahren, edited by Antje Oliver und Sevgi Braun, 447–49. Kamen: Sequentia, 1996.


And here is a short essay about her from VAN Magazine:


Finally, there is an excellent post about Wurm from the website of the Sophie Drinker Institut, a research institute in Bremen, Germany:

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Did you know?

Wurm was also a gifted piano teacher; in 1914, she published a collection of music designed for the teaching of preschool-age children, The ABCs of Music (Das ABC der Musik).

Video Recordings

Soprano Rebecca Nelsen and pianist Chanda VanderHart perform Wurm’s “Gedenken," op. 25, no. 3, 1892. This is the first ever recording of the song.
Soprano Rebecca Nelsen and pianist Chanda VanderHart perform Wurm’s “Herzlieb’ Kind," op. 55, no. 1, 1899, a setting of one of her own poems. This is the first ever recording of the song.

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