Following the death of her mother, Pauline was raised by her aunt and adopted her surname of Fichtner. After training in Vienna and Weimar under Franz Liszt, during the early 1870s her talents as a pianist became widely recognised, winning several international prizes. Her first compositions were published in Vienna in 1870. In 1874 she married the conductor Max Erdmannsdörfer (1848–1905), and performed as a pianist under her husband's direction. They lived in Moscow from 1881 to 1889 where she became acquainted with Tchaikovsky, and concentrated on composing rather than recitals. After returning to Germany, the couple settled in Bremen and then (from 1896) in Munich, where Pauline continued to compose and teach the piano.
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
2 letters from Tchaikovsky to Pauline Erdmannsdörfer-Fichtner have survived, dating from 1886 and 1889, of which the one highlighted in bold below is now available in English translation on this site:
- Letter 3014a – 25 July/6 August 1886, from Maydanovo
- Letter 3772a – 18/30 January 1889, from Frolovskoye
3 letters from Pauline Erdmannsdörfer-Fichtner to Tchaikovsky, dating from around 1886, are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.