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Women Composers: A Secret History

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Music history was also written by women. However, the Hall of Fame of recognized artists is mostly devoid of their presence. Relegated to the status of performers and muses, female musicians weren’t supposed to create. Some bucked that trend, although they still haven’t gained mainstream recognition. Let us fill that void with a listening session dedicated t...

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Women Composers: A Secret History

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Title Artist Album Duration
1
C. Schumann: Scherzo No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 14
Isata Kanneh-Mason Romance – The Piano Music of Clara Schumann 00:04:52

Andrew Cornall, Producer - Clara Schumann, Composer - Philip Siney, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Isata Kanneh-Mason, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2019 Decca Music Group Limited

2
Nonette pour cordes et vents en mi bémol majeur: III. Scherzo, Vivace
Louise Farrenc Musique de chambre 00:04:26

Vincent Pasquier, interprète - Miguel Da Silva, interprète - Philippe Bernold, interprète - Andre Cazalet, interprète - Guillaume Sutre, interprète - François Leleux, interprète - Romain Guyot, interprète - Gilbert Audin, interprète - François Salque, interprète - Louise Farrenc, compositeur

2005 naïve 2005 naïve

3
No. 1 in B Minor, Sehnsucht
Donna Brown Fanny Menddelssohn: Lieder et trio 00:02:44

Donna Brown, Performer, Soloist - Françoise Tillard, Performer, Soloist - Fanny Mendelssohn, Composer - Johann Gustav Droysen, Writer

Opus Production Opus Production

Juana Zayas, Performer - Gisela Hernandez, Composer

2011 Music and Arts Programs of America 2011 Music and Arts Programs of America

London Mozart Players - Howard Shelley, piano & direction

(C) 2007 Chandos (P) 2007 Chandos

6
Scena II. Rimanti, o mio signore (Live) (Live)
Huelgas Ensemble Francesca Caccini: La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina (Live) 00:03:42

Paul Van Nevel, Conductor - Huelgas Ensemble, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesca Caccini, Composer - Michaela Riener, Mezzo-Soprano - Achim Schulz, Tenor

(P) 2018 Sony Music Entertainment Germany GmbH

7
To milo
Angélique Ionatos Sappho de Mytilène 00:02:35

Nena Venetsanou, interprète - Angélique Ionatos, interprète

1991 naïve

8
Ave Maria, O auctrix vite
Sequentia Hildegard von Bingen - Canticles Of Ecstasy 00:08:56

Hildegard von Bingen, Composer - Hildegard von Bingen, Lyricist - Sequentia, Performer - Elizabeth Gaver, Arranger - Klaus L. Neumann, Producer - Benjamin Bagby, Arranger - Heather Knutson, Vocal - Barbara Thornton, Conductor - Jan Höfermann, Executive Producer

(P) 1994 Sony Music Entertainment

9
Allegro – Aria (Affettuoso) – Adagio
La Rêveuse Sonates pour violon, viole obligée et basse-continue 00:04:31

La Rêveuse - Stéphan Dudermel, violin - Florence Bolton, viola - Bertrand Cuiller, harpsichord & organ - Emmanuel Mandrin, organ - Benjamin Perrot, theorb & guitar & conductor

10
O soffrire, o fuggire
La Venexiana Strozzi: Primo libro de' madrigali, Op. 1 00:03:12

La Venexiana, Performer - Claudio Cavina, Performer - Barbara Strozzi, Composer

1997 Cantus Records 1997 Cantus Records

11
Le sommeil d'Ulisse: Sommeil
Isabelle Desrochers Jacquet de la Guerre: Le sommeil d'Ulisse 00:07:52

Isabelle Desrochers, Performer - Voix Humaines, Les, Performer - Christrine Payeux, Performer - Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Composer

2000 Alpha 2000 Alpha

12
Concerto No. 6 en sol pour piano, flûte obligée et cordes, «La Suisse»: II. Andantino
Caroline Boissier-Butini Caroline Boissier-Butini: Concerto No. 6 "La Suisse" - Piece for Organ - Sonate No. 1 - Divertimento 00:10:47

Eva-Maria Zimmermann, MainArtist - Matthias Kuhn, Conductor - Caroline Boissier-Butini, Composer - Regula Küffer, MainArtist - Berner Kammerorchester, Ensemble

(C) 2009 VDE-GALLO (P) 2009 VDE-GALLO

13
Nocturne in B-Flat Major
Anna Ciborowska Szymanowska: Piano Works 00:05:36

Anna Ciborowska, Main Artist - Maria Szymanowska, Composer

(C) 2013 DUX (P) 2013 DUX

14
Concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre en Fa Majeur: III. Vivace molto
Various Artists Jaëll: Musique symphonique & Musique pour piano (Portraits, Vol. 3) 00:04:36

Xavier Phillips, Cello - Brussels Philharmonic - Hervé Niquet, Conductor - Marie Jaell, Composer

2015 Palazzetto Bru Zane - Centre de musique romantique française / Ediciones Singulares / Sémele Proyectos Musicales

15
No. 2, Leggiero, molto espressivo
Wilhelmina Smith Salonen & Saariaho: Works for Solo Cello 00:01:28

Kaija Saariaho, Composer - Wilhelmina Smith, Artist, MainArtist

(C) 2019 Ondine (P) 2019 Ondine

16
III. Scherzo: Vivace
Solistes Europeens, Luxembourg Farrenc: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 00:07:38

Louise Farrenc, Composer - Christoph König, Conductor - Solistes Europeens, Luxembourg, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2018 Naxos (P) 2018 Naxos

17
II
Micaela Gelius Clara Schumann: Trios 00:04:47

Clara Schumann, Composer - Stephan Haack, Acoustic Cello - Sebastian Riederer von Paar, Recording Engineer - Sreten Krstic, Violin - Micaela Gelius, Piano

(P) 1999 ARTE NOVA Musikproduktions GmbH

18
Tombeau de Gilles de Rais : Ouverture
Philharmonie de Lorraine Canat de Chizy : Le tombeau de Gilles de Rais 00:04:21

Philharmonie de Lorraine, interprète - Maîtrise de Paris, interprète - Ensemble Musicatreize, interprète - Roland Hayrabedian, interprète - Patrice Marco, interprète - Jacques Houtmann, interprète - Lionel Peintre, interprète - Féodor Atkine, interprète - Jean Boissery, interprète - Camillo Angarita, interprète - Brigitte Peyre, interprète - Mireille Quercia, interprète - Patrice Balter, interprète - Richard Taylor, interprète - Enzo Cormann, compositeur - Edith Canat De Chizy, compositeur - Enzo Cormann, auteur - Edith Canat De Chizy, auteur

2010 Arion 2010 Arion

19
II. Adagio non troppo
Quintetto Bottesini Farrenc: Piano Quintets 00:05:42

Quintetto Bottesini, Ensemble - Louise Farrenc, Composer

2014 Brilliant Classics 2014 Brilliant Classics

20
Bählamms Fest: Scene 6, Philip telefoniert gerade mit der Polizei
Klangforum Wien Olga Neuwirth: Bählamms Fest 00:04:01

Klangforum Wien, MainArtist - Johannes Kalitzke, MainArtist - Christine Whittlesey, MainArtist - Andrew Watts, MainArtist - Roman Sadnik, MainArtist - Walter Raffeiner, MainArtist - Graham F. Valentine, MainArtist - Olga Neuwirth, Composer - Gudrun Pelker, MainArtist - Isolde Siebert, MainArtist - Ute Trenkel-Burckhardt, MainArtist

2003 KAIROS 2003 KAIROS

21
IV. Finale: Allegro
Solistes Europeens, Luxembourg Farrenc: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 00:06:28

Louise Farrenc, Composer - Christoph König, Conductor - Solistes Europeens, Luxembourg, Orchestra, MainArtist

(C) 2018 Naxos (P) 2018 Naxos

22
True Fire: IV. Lullaby (Live)
Hannu Lintu Saariaho : True Fire, Ciel d'hiver & Trans (Live) 00:05:06

Gerald Finley, Artist, MainArtist - Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra - Kaija Saariaho, Composer - Hannu Lintu, Conductor

(C) 2019 Ondine (P) 2019 Ondine

23
Pierre d’éclair
Ilan Volkov Canat de Chizy: Over the Sea & Other Orchestral Works 00:10:42

Ilan Volkov, Primary - Lyons National Orchestra, Primary - Edith Canat de Chizy, Composer

2015 Solstice Solstice 2015

Juana Zayas, Performer - Gisela Hernandez, Composer

2011 Music and Arts Programs of America 2011 Music and Arts Programs of America

About Playlist

Music history was also written by women. However, the Hall of Fame of recognized artists is mostly devoid of their presence. Relegated to the status of performers and muses, female musicians weren’t supposed to create. Some bucked that trend, although they still haven’t gained mainstream recognition. Let us fill that void with a listening session dedicated to women composers!

Photo: Isata Kanneh-Mason © Robin Clewley

Undervalued: a Look Back on Female Composers

by François Hudry

From Sappho of Mytilene to Kaija Saariaho and Clara Schumann, several women have managed to break through the macho codes of the milieu and become composers. While the classical music landscape has been largely dominated by men in recent centuries, the work of their female colleagues, whether pioneers or contemporaries, is just as fascinating. Here we put eleven undervalued figures of female composition in the spotlight.

Today...

Fortunately, the situation of women composers improved from the 20th century onwards, when a "woman composer" could gain acceptance in society without condescension and derision. In France, Augusta Holmès, "l'outrancière", then Cécile Chaminade and Mel Bonis were composers of the Belle Époque, soon followed by Germaine Tailleferre, whose membership of the group of Les Six bolstered her reputation. One of the great figures of that time was undoubtedly Lili Boulanger, who passed away at the age of 24 due to intestinal tuberculosis, but who in her day represented one of the greatest hopes of French music. It seems that the early discovery of her terrible illness accentuated her propensity for that mysticism tinged with drama that underlies all of her work, much of which is unfinished or lost.

In the twenty-first century, women composers are more numerous and no longer seem to suffer from ostracism. In France, Betsy Jolas, Edith Canat de Chizy, Isabelle Aboulker, Michèle Reverdy, Graciane Finzi, Isabelle Fraisse (who has written 5 string quartets) and Suzanne Giraud are all a part of the musical landscape. In Austria, Olga Neuwirth is one of the world's most respected composers. In addition to her fruitful collaboration with Elfriede Jelinek (Nobel Prize for Literature 2004), Olga Neuwirth works with the Salzburg Festival. Author of two operas which were first performed in New York, in Paris in 2017 she inaugurated a 3D sound installation to mark the Centre Pompidou's 30th birthday, in collaboration with Ircam.

Kaija Saariaho

Let us end this quick historical overview with a look at one of the most powerful figures in music today, whose every new release is keenly anticipated. Born in Helsinki in 1952, Kaija Saariaho has created a completely original universe influenced by the "spectral" movement and the electronic resources of Ircam, in a poetic style, with tremendously inventive textures and soundscapes. Saariaho's music perfectly combines a delicacy of language and clarity of timbre with various forms such as ballet, opera and concertante works. The emphasis is on the cello, which remains her favourite instrument and the one which best expresses her secret confidences. Some of her works have already become "classics" and are performed by the greatest conductors and performers all over the world. As you can see, there is no conclusion to be drawn from this dossier, which merely denounces the short-sightedness and injustices of past centuries without attempting to address the question of whether music has a gender. Male music, female music, it means nothing: the main thing is the strength of the message and the convictions of the person who wants to express and communicate it.

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