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Subject: Re: Female Composers: (was "The Mania for Inclusion")
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Fri, 9 Feb 2018 02:05:18 -0500

text/plain (89 lines)

To my original post, [log in to unmask] responded:
"Yes, the Clara concerto is nice enough. I guess "great" means "different things to different 
people. I do think though that truly great works of art tend to rise to the top and receive 
the acclaim they are due, no matter who produced them."

* * * * 

Of course "great" means different things to different people.  As to truly great works of art 
getting their due, this is true for some, but patently untrue for many, and for far too many 
reasons to list here.  There are always undiscovered treasures to be uncovered, works 
thought lost, etc., and this is true of every type of art.  

Additionally, does every work need to be "great" to be heard?  What's wrong with good.  A 
good deal of what we hear in the concert hall is what I consider "good" - not everything is a 
masterpiece, not every work is going to be the greatest thing you've ever heard and to 
believe it so is to set oneself up for a life of disappointment (which is what I've read a lot of 
in this forum).  It's good to have standards, it's also good to be realistic.  

While Donald Kane responded:

"Of course "a woman could write music like that": imitative, pleasant, and conventional.  
Would you dare to name the more frequently performed piano concertos by men that you 
consider to be inferior?   Why can't we accept what woman do well for it's own inestimable 
worth instead of elevating their rare attempts to compete with men.  If important 
undiscovered women composers exist,  what evidence is there to prove that their output 
has been deliberately suppressed?  . . . if a great female composer were to emerge, she 
would be recognized. It is not impossible; it just hasn't happened yet."

Wow.  There is so much t o be offended by I hardly know where to begin.  

Scholars have actually praised the concerto, analyzing it from start to finish.  What you 
dismiss as "conventional" or "imitative" is, like most music, of its style.  That it's frequently 
compared to the two Chopin Concerti - (to name but two inferior concertos, since you asked 
for specific examples) may or may not be considered praise.  What's interesting is that we 
don't know if she'd even heard Chopin's Concerti - still new works and not well traveled by 
the time she was 13 and  composed her concerto.  The only Chopin she may have known 
was his variations on Mozart's "La ci darem la mano."  When Chopin finally heard Clara ) 
playing her own compositions, he wept.  

As to what evidence may be used to "prove" women have been deliberately suppressed, we 
need look no further than the composer herself who wrote that a woman should never wish 
to become a composers- they can't and none ever has.  This statement, even from a 
woman who was a gifted composer, speaks volumes about the attitude prevalent then . . . 
and  to a large degree, now.  

Fanny Mendelssohn's music is frequently cited as "every bit as good as her brothers" and 
the example I provided (I doubt anyone bothered to listen to it) of her oratorio offers (I 
believe) proof, but she was "kept" from ever writing anything outside of the salon or for 
homebound chamber concerts because the notion of a woman composer was repulsive; it's 
mans work.  Hell, in western history it wasn't all that long ago women weren't even allowed 
to sing in public or act on a stage.  

There is the beautiful music of Cecile Chaminade, who, again, wrote lovely songs and solo 
works, but whose larger scale works were looked down upon and most historians will come 
right out and say it was due to "gender politics."  A number of today's greatest artists have 
championed her work, Ann Sophie von Otter with her songs, and the brilliant pianist Marc-
André Hamelin.

Here is Ms. von Otter in the delightful "Ronde d'amour - Ah! si l'amour prenait."

And Mr. Hamelin offering as an encore her brief, but utterly charming "Theme and 

Would more singers and pianists looked to composers such as Chaminade we'd be 
experiencing some livelier, fresher recital programs. 

Clearly I'm not going to convince anyone here otherwise, but if anyone still believes women 
composers have been given a fair shake and that good ones simply don't exist . . . dream 


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