Born into an aristocratic family in Santiago, Chile, Carmela Mackenna Subercaseaux (1879-1962) showed an early inclination towards creative expression, including painting, writing and music. In 1917, for example, after a piano recital presented by Bindo Paoli’s students, she was lauded in the press for having the “soul of an artist.” Nevertheless, years earlier she had determined that pursuing a career in the arts was inappropriate for someone of her social standing. After brief periods in Great Britain and Uruguay, in 1926 she and her husband settled in Berlin where they lived for a number of years. In addition to her duties as a diplomatic official, while in Berlin Carmela also continued studying the piano with Conrad Ansorge (1862-1930) and began studying composition with Hans Mersmann (1891-1971). While in Europe, the couple separated. Carmela continued in her role as cultural attaché until 1939; later, she visited Paris, Brussels, Cairo and New York. Returning to Santiago, she did not join the active musical life of that city; rather, she fell into an isolation that lasted until her death.
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Carmela Mackenna’s Compositions