Women Composers

I recently ran across a blog post by Elaine Fine in which she bemoans the scarcity of performances in her area that feature music written by women. I think this is probably not an uncommon scenario for most areas, despite an increasing number of women on conductor’s podiums or playing in orchestras. (Men are the distinct minority in some of the orchestras with which I’ve sung.)

While there are many factors that may contribute to this imbalance, some of which are historical and out of our control, it is to our advantage as singers to promote the work of quality composers, particularly when their work may have received less attention than it deserved because of their gender. (Or race, or any number of other extramusical considerations…) As such, I would like to make a bit more of an attempt to feature female composers on these pages.

Women already represented on ASC include Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862-1946) and Margaret Ruthven Lang (1867-1972), and I’ve just posted the first of several songs in my queue by Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944). I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find a good PD source for songs by Amy Beach (1867-1944) soon, though there are already a couple early songs by her online at the Library of Congress website, from when she was still Amy Marcy Cheney. It would also be great to put some Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) here, but I suspect it will be hard to find public domain realizations of her songs. (There are some scores at WIMA, but the figured bass is unrealized.)

In her post, Fine mentions a number of other women composers who will soon hopefully find their way into this archive, including Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) and Clara Schumann (1819-1896). It is worth noting that Fine also has a significant body of work, and has made much of it freely available at the Werner Icking Music Archive.

Please do use the comments section here to add your thoughts. Do you have a favorite woman composer whose work may exist in a public domain edition?