Well, off the top of my head, I come up with the following- <ul type="square"> Cecile Chaminade
Nadia Boulanger [/list]Unfortunately I don`t have time at the moment to elaborate on them. But I have played some of their works- good stuff.
I think Billie Holiday counts also, she co-wrote 'God Bless the Child', I believe.
And there`s also Lady John Scott (aka Alicia Anne Spottiswoode,) who is credited with writing the tune to that old Scottish song, 'Annie Laurie.'
One has to keep in mind that women were not necessarily taken all that seriously in olden times; I think few women had the means to become composers in the past. If you check out this link to wikipedia, you`ll notice that there are considerably more female composers as time has passed...thank goodness!
Of course there have been and are female composers. Theyve just been less successful than their male counterparts, at least in terms of what gets played and recorded. And theyve been around for a long time. Looking for names, one can always go all the way back to Hildegard von Bingen in the Middle Ages. Id say there are more at least reasonably successful women composers now than in prior centuries, and indeed some are very good. I count Sofia Gubaidulina among the elite composers working today, and Augusta Read Thomas, Kaija Saariaho, and Gloria Coates, to name three, all write individual, well-crafted works that get played and recorded. For instance, Ms Thomas has attracted the attention of Pierre Boulez, who has led the premieres of some of her works, and Ms Saariaho works routinely with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Ms Gubaidulina is an A-lister who writes for and collaborates with people like Valery Gergiev, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Yuri Bashmet. Her St John Passion is a masterpiece as far as Im concerned, as is her Viola Concerto.
Germaine Tailleferre is pretty well known but often forgotten. She was a member of Les Six, along with Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honneger, Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc. She wrote primarily for piano, but also has four operas and several orchestral works as well.
On a side note, my father says she is a distant relative of mine, she died in 1983, and that the Tailleferre family changed it's name to Tolliver (my last name) when they moved to the states. I haven't been able to confirm that, but that's the story anyway.
I remember hearing the music of Amy Beach on a radio documentary about a year ago and being very impressed by its quality and imagination. I thought the music deserved to be much better known and I wanted to hear more of it. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find many recordings of her music.... According to some information that I've come across it appears she was extremely productive, often a sign of a good composer.
Anyone know any good Amy Beach Recordings to look out for?
p.s. There are many excellent female composers around in the modern era
I guess that news from Russia do not always travel very fast in the western media. I am learning today (1-2-2007) of the death of Galina Ustvolskaya on 12-22-2006, at the age of 87. She studied with Shostakovich, among others, in the late 1930's and after World War II, until 1947. She then taught composition in Leningrad. Along with Gubaidulina and Firsova, she represents a leading female composer in the mid- to late-twentieth century USSR. Her piano music, indeed, her work in general is notable for its condensed expression: intense, bold, even violent. She was another individual who developed her own style and who stayed independent from the compositional trends of her time. Galina Ustvolskaya was not the most prolific of composers. Her opus includes five symphonies, six piano sonatas and other piano works, such as her 12 preludes, some symphonic poems and suites and quite a bit of chamber music. May she rest in peace.
Grace Williams is mentioned in the Wikipedia list that Rojo supplied. The BBC Music magazine a couple of months ago included her Ballad of Orchestra on a CD with Benjamin Britten's Plymouth Town. Very interesting.
It's the same situation as with the bulk of the rest of the arts and other areas of cultural life – women have not had the chance to be successful or otherwise.
We make progress, albeit slowly; a point that's illustrated by just how recently it is that women have been allowed to play in many major orchestras (the Vienna Philharmonic, for instance, only allowed women to join in 1997).
For her to turn down the Order of the British Empire she must have felt very strongly about her marginalization within the profession. I have not read an extended biography on Ustvolskaya but I understand that she lived very much in reclusion and, when asked if her music was much tributary to Shostakovich's, she repeatedly asserted that being the student of a great master was not synonymous to becoming his follower in composition.