Classical 91.5

Women in Classical Music

If you look at the listings of the major orchestras in America you will see two things in common; very few of them are programming major pieces by women composers, and almost none have a woman on the podium. Despite the abundance of wonderful compositions by women, the world of classical music has been, for centuries, a man’s world.

Classical 91.5 is committed to help turn things around by celebrating the achievements of women:  from Hildegarde of Bingen to Jennifer Higdon, performing, conducting, composing and more. You'll hear women highlighted every day, not just during Women's History Month in March, but year round.  It’s time.

There's lots more content online, from blog posts to videos, resources for research, a celebration of Women's Suffrage and even some Classics for Kids audio features and Quizzes on the right side of the screen.  Please explore the site to find out more.

Learn more about:

Marin Alsop, conductor
Amy Beach, composer
Hildegard von Bingen, composer and mystic      
Lili & Nadia Boulanger, musicians & teacher
Francesca Caccini, lutenist and composer
Sarah Caldwell, conductor
Cecile Chaminade, composer
Leonora d'Este, princess, musician & nun
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Louise Farrenc, pianist & composer
Renee Fleming, soprano

Gabriela Lena Frank, composer

Evelyn Glennie, percussionist

Hélène Grimaud, pianist

Elizabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, composer
Jennifer Higdon, composer
Sharon Isbin, guitarist

Wang Jie, composer

Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Saint Kassiani, composer
Jeanne Lamon, conductor

Libby Larsen, composer

Marianna Martines, composer

Missy Mazzoli, composer
Fanny Mendelssohn, composer

Meredith Monk, composer

Eimear Noone, conductor and composer

Jessye Norman, soprano

Alondra de la Parra, conductor
Florence Price, composer
Clara Schumann, pianist & composer

Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen, violinist & composer

Undine Smith Moore, composer
Dame Ethel Smyth, composer
Barbara Strozzi, composer

Marcelle Germaine Taillefesse, composer

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7747whiFrvQ

Soprano Jessye Norman grew up in a family of amateur musicians who strongly believed in the importance of education. Like many African American musicians, she had to start her career in Europe before breaking through in America; her debut at the Metropolitan Opera wasn’t until 1983. Norman is a master interpreter of spirituals and a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts.

Read about her memoir "Stand Up Straight and Sing"

Jessye Norman passed away on September 30, 2019  Read a Personal Reflection on an American Icon.

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

africlassical.blogspot.com

Composer Florence Price was a trailblazer: the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. She studied at the New England Conservatory, but passed herself off as Mexican to avoid the prejudices of the time. Ultimately, she would end up in Chicago, where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered one of her works. Her music, which had fallen into obscurity, has recently seen a revival.

Listen to her Mississippi Suite.

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

Philly.com

Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winning composer Jennifer Higdon heard almost no classical music before going to college to study the flute. Since then, she has embraced the art, writing music that has been described as “lithe and expert.” In addition to her many commissions, Higdon now teaches at Curtis Institute, preparing our next generation of composers.

Read more about this multi-award winner and a recent premiere.

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zbCRjA9wJ8

Against her father’s wishes, Dame Ethel Smyth pursued a career in music, first privately, and then at the Leipzig Conservatory.  Her persistence led to a successful music career, although some critics complained that her music was “too masculine.” In recognition for her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1922…the first female composer to be awarded a damehood.

Hear Dame Ethel Smyth share recollections of Johannes Brahms in this recording from the 1930s. 

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

http://www.violinstudent.com/history/july/july6.html

Lili Boulanger, the first woman to win the coveted Prix d’Rome from the Paris Conservatory, was a singer who also played piano, violin, cello and harp.

After she died at 24, her sister Nadia Boulanger—also a brilliant musician—spent her life promoting her sister’s works and becoming one of the most important teachers in the 20th century, counting Rochester’s David Diamond among her many students. 

Here Leonard Bernstein congratulates Nadia Boulanger, after she became the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a full concert.

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

Planet Hugill

Lucezia Borgia’s daughter, Leonora d’Este, was a princess, a nun, and a musician. Her mother died when she was just 4 years old, so Leonora was sent to a convent to be cared for. At age 8, she informed her father that she wanted to become a nun, and it was there she stayed, writing sacred music for the Convent choir. 

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

Famous People

Amy Beach was one of the first American composers to succeed without European training. Her "Gaelic" Symphony was the first symphony by an American woman.

Naxos Records

Cecile Chaminade began composing at an early age, and when she was just 8 years old she played some of her music for Georges Bizet. Her music was very popular in America. The composer Ambroise Thomas described her as “not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.”  Listen to her  6 Pièces Romantiques, Op.55.

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/clara-wieck-schumann-393.php

  Clara Wieck Schumann was one of the most distinguished German pianists of the 19th century. She was one of the first to perform from memory, making it the standard for concert performance. She and her husband Robert mentored the young Johannes Brahms, and Clara was the first to perform Brahms’ music in public.  Listen to Clara's Piano Works.  

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

The Awl

Fanny Mendelssohn was the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn, and a composer of more than 460 works. A number of her pieces were originally published under Felix's name. This ended in 1842 when Felix confessed the deception to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace.  Listen to Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel's Piano Trio Op. 11 (1840)

This post is part WXXI Classical 91.5’s celebration of Women’s History Month. For more of these stories and other resources, check out Celebrating the Contributions of Women to Classical Music.

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