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Subject: Female Composers: (was "The Mania for Inclusion")
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Thu, 8 Feb 2018 14:55:44 -0500

text/plain (70 lines)

Clara Schumann wrote a number of beautiful works, though she knew “her 
place” so orchestral works are fewer than solo or chamber music pieces.  
Nonetheless, her piano concerto is at least as good as any in the standard 
concerto repertoire and, I dare say, superior than a number that get 
performed with far more frequency.  I remember hearing a recording not 
all that long ago and a listener declaring, “I never knew a woman could 
write music like that,” a commentary I found both hilariously ignorant . . . 
and vile.  Of course, Frau Schumann was neither really a “woman” at 13 
when she wrote this impressive, virtuoso work, nor was she Frau 
Schumann yet.  One can only imagine what, if given the time to develop 
her own skills how far she could have gone.

Fanny Mendelssohn was considerably prolific and some of her orchestral 
and choral works certainly should be better known.  I’m an enormous fan 
of her oratorio, Bildern der Bibel, in which she reaches waaaaaay back and 
evokes, and pays enormous homage to, the cantatas and passions of Bach.

Many of the symphonic works of Amy Beach are certainly impressive 
enough, and along with a number of other women composers, are unduly 
neglected by most orchestras, rarely getting any playtime.  Here is her 
Symphony in E Minor “The Gaelic.”

Of contemporary composers, Kaija Saariaho “became famous,” recently by 
being only the second female composer to have a work, L’Amor Loin, 
performed by the Metropolitan Opera, and presented live in HD.  While it is 
a beautiful, work and has been performed around the globe, Saariaho has 
been famous outside of the U.S. for a while, an impressive body of work.  A 
few brave U.S. orchestras have programmed her works, among them the 
Boston Symphony.  Here is her “Circle Map” from 2002.  It won’t be to all 
likings, but I find it fascinating and beautifully haunting.

Then there’s the strange case of Hildegard von Bingen, who, practically invented
invented music (someone will take that literally and argue against it, 
I’m 'sure).  Her Ordo Virtutum from 1151 predates other morality plays 
by 'over a century and is still performed today.'

This is but a smattering of works by women who – dare I say it? – had 
they been men would be far greater known than they are.  Additionally, peo
people generally want something "familiar" not "new."  This is as true in pop
popular music as it is in the classical world.  How many of us have been at a p
a popular music event when the crowd leaves disappointed because the ban
band played mostly new music when 90% only wanted to hear the songs the
they already knew?  

Here's looking forward to a period when great and challenging music by m
more women can be heard and to a time when the composer's gender n
needn't even be a topic of discussion.


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