Thursday, January 9, 2003

Women composers through the ages

Medieval: Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), a 12th century visionary and theologian.

Renaissance: Maddalena Casulana (1540-90), the first woman known to have published her music.

Baroque: Francesca Caccini (1587-1645) and Barbara Strozzi (1619-after 1664), Italian composers of stage works, arias and cantatas.

Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729), a French composer who wrote for harpsichord, as well as volumes of cantatas.

Classical era: Corona Schroter (1751-1802) and Juliane Benda Reichardt (1752-83), German composers of songs.

Marianne von Martines (1744-1812). The most prolific composer of her time among Viennese women, she composed Masses, oratorios, cantatas, concertos for piano and orchestra, sonatas, symphonies and arias.

Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824), a blind piano virtuoso who wrote songs, an opera and a German Singspiel.

Romantic era: Pauline Viardot (1821-1910). The international opera star also wrote songs, opera, operettas, piano works and more.

Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-96). The touring piano virtuoso who married Robert Schumann and had eight children also composed piano concertos, chamber music, vocal pieces and piano works.

Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47). She was a composer, pianist and conductor, and the sister of Felix. Her many songs include several published under Felix's name. She also wrote chamber music, cantatas and other choral music.

The 20th century: Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) was the first woman to win the Prix de Rome for her magnificent cantata Faust et Helene.

Alma Mahler-Werfel (1879-1964) studied composition with Alexander Zemlinsky and married Gustav Mahler. Her songs are remarkable for their bold use of harmony.

Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) is most famed for her opera, The Wreckers (1903-04).

Amy Marcy Cheny Beach (1867-1944). America's most prolific early composer, she was able to compose large-scale works in a few days. She is widely known for her Gaelic Symphony, Piano Concerto and Piano Trio. She also wrote a Mass and an immense amount of choral and keyboard music.

Florence Price (1887-1953) was the first African-American woman to be recognized as an accomplished composer. She is known for her Symphony in E Minor, art songs, piano pieces and her Piano Concerto.

Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983): The only female member of the French group Les Six (The Six), Tailleferre composed more than 300 works: songs, ballets, operas, chamber music, orchestral music, piano solos, concertos, and music for movies, radio and television.

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-53) was a rugged individual along with Henry Cowell and Edgard Varese.

Thea Musgrave, b. 1928, was born near Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first opera, The Decision, had its world premiere at Sadler's Wells, London.

Sofia Gubaidulina, b. 1931, of Russia, says that Bach, Webern and Shostakovich made the greatest influence on her work.

Marta Ptaszynska, b. 1943, is often cited with Lutoslawski and Penderecki as being among the most important Polish composers of her time.

Louise Talma (1906-96) was an American who found prominence with her serial compositions.

Joan Tower, b. 1938. Most major orchestras have performed her music, and she was composer-in-residence with the St. Louis Symphony.

Nancy Van de Vate, b. 1930, founded the League of Women Composers in 1975. She is committed to writing large-scale works. Her Chernobyl (1987) for orchestra is a work that utilizes sound mass.

Pauline Oliveros, b. 1932, Laurie Anderson, b. 1947, and Meredith Monk, b. 1943, are known for pushing boundaries of performance art through audience participation, theatricality and experimental techniques.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, b. 1939, was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1983 for her Symphony No. 1, and the first woman to receive a doctorate in composition from Juilliard.

Libby Larsen, b. 1950, is one of America's most successful composers and won a Grammy for the CD The Art of Arleen Auger.

Chen Yi, b. 1953. The Chinese-American fuses East with West in her music.

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