Female Composers: Pieces For Violin And Piano
“...the field of musical compositions (is) far less accessible to the female gender…” and “...naturally it still is women’s work, who always lack strength and, here and there, inventiveness.” These are the terms used by the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in April 1848; this is how Clara Schumann talks about her own compositions in her diaries during 1846. Women who compose are harshly criticized, their work is viewed suspiciously and their professionalism disdained. The eight female composers of the late 18th to the 20th century, who are described here, persevered in their path despite the lack of recognition and followed their professional career with huge physical exertions and financial difficulties. What was the nature of the objections against composing women? What did the split consist of within the composing guild? - Well, there was indeed a differentiation between male and female composing: On the one hand women were thought of being only capable of handling the smaller form of a song or a small chamber music composition. The symphonic, the opera and the oratorio were reserved for men. On the other hand it was assumed that the female intellect could not fulfill the formal compositional criteria. Such as a strict style, a theoretical structure, agility in dealing with the forms, a serious mind and male strength. To sacrifice these criteria to a female composing style would mean a weakening of the metier. Remarkably enough however they were granted the highest honors. Their works were rewarded with prestigious prizes. They were popular artists on the stages of Europe and beyond. The social elite, the elitist educated middle-class adorned themselves with their company. Their awareness of social shared responsibility expressed itself among others in leading functions and active nursing care in the military hospitals of the World War I. It is alarmingly incomprehensible to come to the conclusion that all of this was not enough to save them from the rapid obliteration from the cultural awareness. Only very gradually there has been an attempt recently to rediscover the milestones that these artists have laid down with all their strength, to edit their compositions and to establish the place they deserve in cultural history.