Sirmen [Syrmen; née Lombardini], Maddalena [Madelena] Laura
- Elsie Arnold
(b Venice, Dec 9, 1745; d Venice, May 18, 1818). Italian composer, violinist and singer. Unusually for a woman composer at that time, there appear to have been no other musicians in her family and she became famous entirely through her own efforts. In 1753 she was admitted to the Ospedale dei Mendicanti in Venice, not as an orphan but as a musician who would be an asset to their all-female choir and orchestra. She must have been an outstanding violinist since in 1760 she was allowed to go to Padua to study with Tartini; as the lessons were delayed, Tartini wrote her a long letter explaining his violin playing methods and the best way to practise. It was copied in Padua before it was sent and by 1770 it was in print in Italy, shortly followed by translations into English (by Charles Burney), German and French. Sirmen was probably taught composition by the ...