Julian barnes

The forgotten female composer fêted by Mozart and Haydn

A few years ago, I was sitting in the London Library researching a book about blind people across the ages. As a semi-blind person myself, I sighed at the lack of women, other than the endlessly chipper Helen Keller, who never had a bad day. Ever. My sister, however, drew my attention to a two-line wiki entry for the 18th-century composer, singer and professor — and darling of the Viennese musical court — Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759–1824). Ten years passed, and after many hours of research in libraries and chats with music scholars, we now find ourselves — to our utter amazement — co-writing a chamber opera about her