On being a “composeress”

Posted on: August 7, 2013

In Tuesday’s (8/6) Opinionator blog in the New York Times, composer Annie Gosfield writes, “What is the role of the ‘woman composer’ and why, after all these years, is she such a burning issue? I’ve taken part in arguments on the subject in meetings, concert halls, seminars and bars. The topic is a hot one in the media, too. In some quarters we have variously been declared dead, underrepresented, underserved, less likely to take risks and more reluctant to ask for anything. As a woman and a composer, I would like to declare myself alive, represented, served, eager to take risks and downright dogged when it comes to asking for things.… I’ve never considered myself a ‘woman composer,’ but I suspect that over the years being female has helped more than it’s hurt. Being a woman (and having high hair) has made me easier to recognize, easier to remember and has spared me from fitting into the generic description of a composer: ‘medium build, dark hair, glasses, beard.’ I will admit to liking the invented honorific term ‘composeress.’ (It sounds archaic, grand, and slightly ridiculous, just as a gender-specific title for a composer should.).… Music is music: I don’t believe it has recognizable male or female characteristics.” The blog includes sound clips of two of Gosfield’s compositions.

Posted August 7, 2013