Johanna Kinkel

Johanna Kinkel

Johanna Kinkel, composer, poet and revolutionist, was born in Bonn on July 8, 1810. She was highly esteemed because of her intelligence and extensive education, her exceptional musical talent and her humor. By others she was considered overeducated and, thus, looked down upon as an unfeminine and emancipated woman. She freed herself from the tyranny of her first and unhappy marriage by leaving her husband, thereby rejecting conventional beliefs to demanded fulfillment by exercising a right to pursue a career of her choice. In Berlin (1836-1839) she proved her artistic independence as composer, holding her own in a man’s domain despite prejudices against female composers.

In the 1843 she married the Protestant theologian and professor Gottfried Kinkel from Bonn. During the next six years, while giving birth to four children and taking care of the daily housework, she financed a good part of their livelihood by giving music lessons.

Her husband was taken prisoner and sentenced to life in July 1849 for participation in the uprising in Baden. During her husband’s imprisonment Johanna Kinkel devised a successful plan for Gottfried Kinkel’s escape from prison in Berlin-Spandau in November 1850.

Arriving early in 1851 in London, the Kinkels encountered difficult work-conditions. Johanna Kinkel assumed the full responsibility to support the family in London by giving music lessons. Johanna Kinkel concentrated on her work as a music teacher until her death from a fall from a window in 1858 the age of 48, vicitm either of a suicide or an accident.