Its unique status notwithstanding, little is known of the short life of its Polish composer. Tekla Badarzewska (1834–1861) wrote it when she was just seventeen and had it published in 1851 in Warsaw as Molitwa dziewicy (‘The Maiden’s Prayer’). It was republished as a supplement to the Paris Revue et Gazette Musicale in 1859 from whence it spread round the world like a plague. There are a further thirty-four piano pieces by Badarzewska, including one entitled Prayer Answered. Thankfully, it failed to capture the public’s imagination.
An ungentlemanly German critic in his obituary of Badarzewska opined that ‘[her] early death saved the musical world from a veritable inundation of intolerable lachrimosity’. Far greater composers than Badarzewska have shone brightly and profitably around the world before descending into obscurity. For better or worse The Maiden’s Prayer, if not the name of its composer, will never be forgotten. Quite an achievement for a teenage female Polish composer of the 1850s. Hard to dismiss in fact.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2003