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Women Composers in Classical Music Era – Establishing Identity Amidst Discrimination

Listening to music has been a way for many famous women to express themselves. Whether they were songwriters, composers, or singers, these women have provided us with unforgettable music. As the years have passed, many of these women have been forgotten, but here are a few things you might want to remember about them. As you may know, women composers from the old musical era are almost invisible in classical music. They were expected to be wives and mothers first and foremost and then were expected to be musically uneducated. So, we have to depend on the accounts of male colleagues and family members to extrapolate what their works were.

The music industry has long been a male-dominated field, and it’s easy for female composers to get lost in the mix. Whether you’re a music lover who’s heard of Fanny Mendelssohn but not much beyond that, or a budding conductor who wants to learn more about conducting the music of female composers, here is a list of musical eras and the composers you should know about.

Establishing Identity Is Difficult

Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart were all male, but they were also part of a long tradition of male composers. As women began to break into the music field in greater numbers during the 18th and 19th centuries, they took important steps toward establishing an identity for women as composers.

The word “composer” is most often associated with the names of famous male artists, but women have been making music for centuries, and some were even overlooked during their lifetimes. While much of their work has been lost to time, there are a few notable female composers you should know about.

When you think of the great composers of classical music, the first names that come to mind are usually male. But many female composers throughout history were either as well-known as their male counterparts or have been largely forgotten.

Women in Music

It’s no secret that women composers face a lot of discrimination in the music industry, and that’s why it’s important to know about the women who have made history in music. They were involved in composing, singing, and playing instruments from the very beginning of music history. While their musical contributions from the first millennium CE are little known, women have always been an integral part of the development of Western music.

From the dawn of the music industry, women composers have always played a role in the industry. It is not until recently, however, that the female composers of classical music have become more recognized. At the beginning of the 19th century, women composers were often restricted to writing songs for the piano. It was not until later in the century those female composers began to find a place outside of piano music. This was due to the increasing popularity of women instrumentalists.

Let’s get to know some of the empowered women during the classical music era:

  • Clara Schumann – championed the cause of women in music and was a staunch supporter of the women’s movement. She is known as one of the greatest pianists and musicians of the 19th century, but she is also known for being a composer of classical music. She started playing the piano when she was 4 years old and began composing after she married Robert Schumann in 1840. Her most famous piece is the “Cello Sonata in C” and the “Symphonic Etudes.”
  • Fanny Mendelssohn – one of those rare individuals who was both a gifted musician and a talented artist, in addition to being multilingual. a German pianist and composer. As the daughter of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and the sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn, she is part of the early Romantic period of Western classical music. Mendelssohn’s compositions include songs, piano pieces, chamber music, two piano concertos, two string symphonies, a violin concerto, a viola concerto, and numerous hymns, some of which are still sung today.
  • Lili Boulanger – French-American composer of classical music who was well known in artistic circles but who is now being rediscovered by the masses. Boulanger was born in Paris in December 1893 to a family of famous musicians. Her father was the renowned composer and conductor of the same name, and her mother, a concert pianist who was a protégé of the great composer Jules Massenet. (Lili’s sister Nadia was also a well-known composer and musician.)

It is common knowledge that women have been underrepresented in the world of classical music, so this shortlist is a great way to start paying tribute to some of the influential women composers of classical music.

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