Women composers: a brief history and playlist

Posted on: December 5, 2016

“This month at the Metropolitan Opera, audiences can see and hear, for the first time there in over a century, an opera composed by a woman—Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin,” writes Alice Gregory in Friday’s (12/2) New York Times. “There is the notion, intractable for centuries, that women could perhaps be talented of body—with nimble fingers and a bell-like voice—but never of mind, which is, of course, where composition originates.” Gregory offers an “alternative history of female composing…. Even if they’ve hardly ended up household names, the women in this alternative history of composing are, quite frankly, anomalies: people for whom ambition and talent coincided with privilege and pedigree…. Changes in geopolitics played a role in their success, as did quirks of history.” Included is a playlist of music selections by composers chronicled in Anna Beer’s Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music (Oneworld Publications, May 10, 2016). The article features brief histories linked to music clips of works by Hildegard of Bingen, Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Marianna Martines, Louise Farrenc, Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, and Ashley Fure.

Posted December 5, 2016