Classic 107 celebrated International Women's Day this past Sunday with great music by women composers, music performed by women artists or inspired by them!
Annually on March 8th, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. Well at Classic 107, we're all about the music!
A standard challenge: Why no women Mozarts? Besides the fact that there's only been one male Mozart, could we have known if Mozart's sister had great talent, given family and social roles, expectations and education for women? But some women nearly transcended those odds. Beach, Boulanger, Clarke, Gubaidulina, Larsen, Mendelssohn, Monk, Musgrave, Ran and Zwilich. An excellent compilation if you'd like an introduction to some of the great women composers, most of whom are sadly unknown to most of the public.
Then there are the perfomers. Countless women performers who have created magic with their voices and their instruments over the centuries!
Here are just some of the great women in music!
Anna Magdalena Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach's cousin, married him in 1720 after his first wife (another cousin, Maria Barbara Bach) died. Anna was a singer in her own right, and a pianist. She was a copyist for her husband, as well as having 13 children by him (7 died before adulthood) and raising his four children from his first marriage. But she was likely more than just a copyist. Some scholars credit her as a musical collaborator, and promote the idea that she wrote several pieces which he published under his (more famous) name and may have had significant influence in a few pieces which were otherwise composed by him.
Amy Marcy Beach was rediscovered as an early woman composer who achieved considerable success unusual for either an American or female composer, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She published as Mrs. H.H.A.Beach and is sometimes known as America's first great woman composer.
Clara Wieck Schumann usually played works by her husband, Robert Schumann, or their friend, Johannes Brahms, both of whom she influenced and promoted, but she was a composer in her own right, nearly lost in the shadow of these men.
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, a sister of Felix Mendelssohn and granddaughter of a German philosopher, showed talent in her childhood equal to that of her brother. She focused more on small scale works: piano and lieder. She gradually achieved some public recognition before her untimely death during a rehearsal of her brother's "Walpurgis Nacht."
Florence Beatrice Price, influenced by the Harlem Renaissance, was among the first African American woman to write symphonies. She also drew in her work from music of black history.
Nadia Boulanger was a French composer, conductor, and teacher who taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century as well as leading living composers and musicians. She also performed as a pianist and organist. From a musical family, she achieved early honours as a student at the Paris Conservatoire but, believing that she had no particular talent as a composer, she gave up writing music and became a teacher. In that capacity, she influenced generations of young composers, especially those from the United States and other English-speaking countries. Among her students were those who became leading composers, soloists, arrangers and conductors, including Aaron Copland, Quincy Jones, John Eliot Gardiner, Elliott Carter, Dinu Lipatti, Igor Markevitch, Virgil Thomson, David Diamond, Daniel Barenboim, Philip Glass and Ástor Piazzolla.
Germaine Tailleferre was a composer active in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s and part of the art scene that included Picasso. Her later work had been largely forgotten or lost until recently. Her ability to write and publish was affected by her family difficulties. She scored film as well as writing for piano, harp and orchestra, and also some opera.
The life of Maria Callas was often scandalous, but her operatic voice remains one of the best-loved and most remembered.
Marion Anderson's voice is itself a classic of the 20th century. The African-American contralto was one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said: "Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty."
Thea Musgrave's rich and powerful musical language and a strong sense of drama have made the Scottish-American composer one of the most respected and exciting contemporary composers in the Western world. With such a large and varied career and catalogue, Thea Musgrave is frequently interviewed and questioned about being a "woman" composer, to which she has replied; "Yes, I am a woman; and I am a composer. But rarely at the same time." " She has also said, "Music is a human art, not a sexual one. Sex is no more important than eye color."