celebrating three hundred years of music by women
(if the location of the music is known, the entry concludes with a Publisher or email address)
AMANDA ALDRIDGE (1866-1956)
British opera singer, teacher, and composer under the name Montague Ring. Predominantly in the then-fashionable romantic parlour style, her nearly 30 songs (1907-1924) were extremely popular in Europe in the early twentieth century; her publishers included Chappell & Co, Boosey & Co, and Ricordi. She had a long performing career, and taught such singers as Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson. She was the daughter of the African-American Shakesperian actor Ira Aldridge.
Titles of the Songs include: Azalea; Bagdad Suite; The Fickle Sogster; Four Moorish Pictures; Three African Dances; Two Little Southern Songs. There were also works for chamber orchestra. Youtube has some Montague Ring. Northwestern University Library has some of her manuscripts in their Special Collections.
ELFRIDA ANDRÉE (1841-1929)
Swedish; she was the first woman organist and telegraphist in Sweden, the first to compose chamber and orchestral music and the first to conduct a symphony orchestra. She used her influence to revise a law enabling women to hold the office of organist, and in 1861 was employed as an organist in Stockholm. She was a typical feminist, and her motto was 'the education of womankind'. She composed over 100 works, in the style of contemporary Scandinavian composers influenced by Schumann and Mendelssohn.
Works include: Piano Quintet in e minor; Piano Quartet in a minor; 2 String Quartets; 2 Piano Trios; 2 Violin Sonatas; 2 Organ Symphonies; 2 Masses; various songs.
web - musicroom.com; editionsilvertrust.com; di-arezzo.co.uk
SALLY BEAMISH (b1956)
British composer and violist; in 1990 she moved to Scotland to develop her career as a composer. Her music embraces many influences, particularly jazz and Scottish traditional music, and is performed and broadcast internationally. She has written for such soloists as Stephen Isserlis, Tabea Zimmerman and Colin Currie, sand her music is championed by the BIS label. She was one of the PRS 20x12 Cultiral Olympiad composers and was Composer of the Wekk in February 2012 on BBC Radio 3. Commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, her commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden premièred in September 2013.
Works include: Songs & Blessings, 1991, from the Ambache Recordings Seven Sisters CD; The Wedding at Cana (str 6tt, 1991); Little Morag (children's choir, 2007); Reed Stanzas (Proms, 2010); 5 Poems from the Forest (narrator & str 5tt, 2011); Dance Variations (Percussion Conc No 2, 2011); Spinal Chords (2012); Variations of a Theme of Benjamin Britten (2013).
Contact: email - email@example.com
web - www.sallybeamish.com; and Awuya film on youtube
ANTONIA BEMBO (1643-1715)
Italian; she studied with Francesco Cavalli, and sang for Louise XIV in Paris; he awarded her a pension. Her music dates from 1697 to after 1707, and includes sacred and secular vocal compositions, which she dedicated to Louise XIV and other members of the royal family. Her music is notable for fine vocal writing, clever word painting, attractive dissonances, and some quirky instrumental writing.
Works include: chamber pieces on Italian, French and Latin texts; two Te Deums and a 5 voiced Italian Serenata; Motets, and a setting of Psalm xix; the opera Ercole amante (1707); and Les sept Pseaumes de David.
Further information contact: La Donna Musicale: email - firstname.lastname@example.org
web - www.classicalm.com/en/composer/1566/Antonia-Bembo
MEL BONIS (1858-1937)
French; she studied with Cesar Franck, won Conservatoire prizes; her music is frequently pictorial.
Works include: orchestral and chamer music, piano and songs.
Scènes de la Foret for flute, horn & piano (1907). 15 mins. Robb/Dilley/Ambache CD recording can be bought on Ambache Recordings Liberté, Egalité, Sororité.
web - www.mel-bonis.com
DOREEN CARWITHEN (1922-2003)
English; she won all the composition prizes at the Royal Academy of Music, and was the first composer chosen from the RAM for the J. Arthur Rank Apprentice Scheme in 1947 to study film music. She wrote the music for 35 films, had her works performed at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts in London, and won various composition prizes.
Works include: String Quartet No 1 (1945); One Damn Thing After Another (1947); Concerto for Piano & Strings (1948); Bishop Rock (1952); String Quartet No 2 (1952); Five Diversions for Wind Quintet (1953); Suffolk Suite (1964).
Contact: Info from William Alwyn Foundation: +44 (0)1480 456 931; contact
web - www.musicweb-international.com/alwyn/carwith1.htm
REBECCA CLARKE (886-1979)
English; as one of the first female professional viola players, Henry Wood selected her to play in The Queen's Hall Orchestra in 1912. As a composer, she is best known for her chamber music; in 1919 her Viola Sonata won a competition sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge; the dark tone colours make it an emotionally intense work, with thick harmonies and complex rhythms. Her Piano Trio (1921) is another powerful work; Coolidge also sponsored her longest work, the Rhapsody for cello and piano (1923). Her String Quartet has a particularly expressive slow movement. Among her 52 songs are settings of Yeats, such as the Shy One (1912); 'the Seal Man' is an atmospheric, declamatory setting of Masefield (1922). The weightiest of her 11 choral pieces is 'Psalm xci'; Shelley's 'Music, When Soft Voices Die' is also notable. Perhaps the best female composer of the inter-war years, publication difficulties made her uncertain about a woman doing this; but it's now published by OUP, Hildegard and Boosey & Hawkes.
Works include: Morpheus (1918); Viola Sonata (1919); Chinese Puzzle (1921); Piano Trio (1921); Rhapsody (1923); Dumka (1941); Music, When Soft Voices Die (1907); A Lover's Dirge (Shakespeare; 1908); The Seal Man (1922).
Contact: Rececca Clarke Society contact
web - www.rebeccaclarke.org
MADELEINE DRING (1923-1977)
English composer and actress; her music was typically light and entertaining. She loved music and theatre equally, and brought these enthusiasms together in incidental music for the stage, where she frequently sang and played the piano. As well as writing a good deal of instrumental and vocal music, she also composed an opera and a dance drama, and music for film and television.
Works include: Three Fantastic Variations on Lillibulero, 1948. Festival Scherzo, 1951. Airs on a Shoe String, 1953. Danza Gaya, 1965. Trio for flute, oboe and piano (1968) from the Ambache Recordings Seven Sisters CD. Five Betjeman Songs, 1976. Seven Shakespeare Songs. The opera 'Cupboard Love'.
Published by Joseph Weinberger
SOPHIE DUNÉR (b1969)
Swedish; she studied with Hal Crook, Tom McGagh & Mili Bermejo at Berklee College of Music & Stockhausen Music Course. Her music may be described as a blend of the romantic and the spiritually elevated with a dissonant, bold and satirical edge, having her roots in jazz. As producer Michael Haas has it: "It's not fusion, it's Dúneresque - a newly created genre!" Influenced by Stravinsky's jazz period but also compared to Tim Burton. "The City of My Soul" is on Big Round Records/PARMA recordings. She is a 4 time award winner from The Arts Council in Sweden.
Works include: The City of Dizzy (2017); The City of My Dreams (2009); Kairo (2007); Red Sailor Girl (2007); The Rain in Spain (2000); Captain Crunch (2000); The Multiple Useful (2000); Happy People (2000); Silent Revolution (1997); Jack the Ripper (1995).
Further information contact: Sophie Dunér: email - Thecityofdizzy@gmail.com
web - sophieduner.com
DOROTHY GOW (1893-1982)
English; she studied with Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music and with Egon Wellesz in Vienna. Starting with the Fantasy String Quartet in 1932, the Macnaghten-Lemare concerts regularly included her chamber music, which was appreciated for its great beauty and individuality. Three Songs for Tenor and String Quartet received good reviews in 1934. Her Prelude and Fugue (from 1931) for orchestra was broadcast by the BBC in the same year. Her best known work is the String Quartet in One Movement; it was first performed by the Aeolian Quartet in 1947 and published by OUP in 1957. Her last work to survive her own self-criticism was a Piece for Violin and Horn, broadcast by the BBC in 1972.
Her Oboe Quintet (1936) was revived in an Oboe Classics (2006) recording by George Caird. An enthusiastic listener wrote "Dorothy Gow produced an overwhelming torrent of fabulous harmony and intricate sound patterns that suddenly made complete sense of serial music." Here's part of the Moderato, on this recording Gow, from the collection on the CD An English Renaissance.
SOFIA GUBAIDULINA (b1931)
Russian; she is a profoundly religious person, much influenced by J S Bach, Webern and Jung. She has received numerous awards, including in 2013 being the recipient of the Biennale de Venezia 'Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for the Music'. She has written scores of scores, including film scores; in other work, she frequently uses unusual combinations of instruments. Her music is now much published, recorded and commissioned, and she was given the Gold Medal in the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, November 2019.
Works include: Offertorium, Violin Conc, 1980. Zeitgestalten, (Figures of time, orch) 1994. Stimmen .... Verstummen, Symph, 1986. Cantata The Canticle of the Sun of St Francis of Assisi (vc, chamber choir & perc, 1997. Johannes Passion, soli, choirs & orch, 2000. 4 String Quartets and numerous other chamber works.
web - www.bruceduffie.com/gubaidulina.html and Schirmer
JULIANA HALL (b1958),
American; she studied with Dominick Argento, Martin Bresnick, Leon Kirchner, and Frederic Rzewski. Known primarily as an Art Song composer, Hall's music has been performed in 24 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and broadcast on BBC, NPR, Radio France, Radio MonaLisa, and Radio ArtsIndonesia. Hall received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989 and among her commissions are two from the Schubert Club of St. Paul, MN for song cycles for soprano Dawn Upshaw and baritone David Malis.
Works include SONG CYCLES: Night Dances (1987); Letters from Edna (1989); Peacock Pie (1989); Syllables of Velvet, Sentences of Plush (1989); Winter Windows (1989); Fables for a Prince (1990); Death's Echo (1992); Propriety (1992); Two Birds (1995); Love's Pilgrimage (2000); One Art (2003); Seeker of Truth (2006); The Poets (2007); Songs of Innocence (2009); Upon This Summer's Day (2010); and INSTRUMENTAL COMPOSITIONS: Ding Dong Bell (2007); A Certain Tune (2009); Crucifixus (2010); Orpheus Singing (2010); Two-Bit Variations (2010); The Ballad of Barnaby (2011); and The Dream of the Rood (2011).
Contact: email - JH@JulianaHall.com; web - www.JulianaHall.com
VITEZSLAVA KAPRÁLOVÁ (1915-40)
Czech; studied in Brno, Prague and Paris; Martinu was an important teacher and friend. Stylistically she mixes a concise polytonality with her own melancholy melodic expression. She conducted the BBC SO in her >Military Sinfonietta at the 1938 ISCM Festival in London.
Works include: January (1933); Piano Concerto in D minor, Op 7 (1935); Suite en miniature (1935); Military Sinfonietta, op 11 (1937); Ilena, Op 15 (1938); Trio for Oboe, Clarinet & Bassoon (1938); Waving Farewell (1938); Suita rustica, Op 19 (1938); Partita for Piano & String Orchestra, Op 20 (1939); Concertino for Violin, Clarinet & Orchestra, Op 21 (1939).
Contact: email - email@example.com; web - www.kapralova.org
NICOLA LEFANU (b1947)
English composer; she has composed over 100 works, which are widely played, broadcast and recorded; her music is published by Novello and Edition Peters. She has been commissioned by the BBC and international festivals. Her calatogue includes vocal and chamber music and seven operas. She was Professor of Music at the University of York from 1994 to 2008.
Works include: Columbia Falls (orch, 1975); The Old Woman of Beare (Sop & Ensemble, 1981); Blood Wedding (opera, 1992); 3 String Quartets (1988, 1996, 2010); Rossetti Songs (women's voices, 2008); Dream Hunter (opera, 2011).Wind-blown Seeds (Str Orch, 2012).
Here's part of her Variations for Oboe Quartet (1968) LeFanu, from the collection on the CD Janet Craxton.
Contact through the web - www.nicolalefanu.com
CECILIA McDOWALL (b1951)
Cecilia McDowall has been described by the International Record Review as having 'a communicative gift that is very rare in modern music'. Recent commissions include one from the BBC (for the winner of the BBC Radio 3 2008 Choir of the Year) and works for the Welsh Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and City of London Sinfonia. She has written much choral music which is performed worldwide as well as orchestral and chamber music. Her works are regularly broadcast on BBC radio and readily available on CD. Her Three Latin Motets have been recorded by the renowned Phoenix Chorale (Chandos); this recording, Spotless Rose, won a Grammy award (2009) and was nominated for Best Classical Album. She is composer in residence at Dulwich College and has been signed by Oxford University Press as an ‘Oxford’ composer. She has recently received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Portsmouth. 2014 Commissions include a work for the BBC Singers, Westminster Cathedral and a new chamber opera on the subject of WW1, Airborne. She won the British Composers Award 2014 for choral music with Night Flight
Works include: Le Temps Viendra (1998) from the Ambache Recordings Seven Sisters CD; Great Hills vn/2 fl/str, (2007); Playground (1999); 4 Shakespeare Songs sop/str (1999); A Fancy of Folksongs (2003); A Canterbury Mass (2007); Deep Waters Go Fish (2000). Publishers OUP & Gemini.
Contact: email - firstname.lastname@example.org; web - www.ceciliamcdowall.co.uk
or www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/alumni profile McDowall
THEA MUSGRAVE (b 1928)
Scottish; studied with Hans Gal and Nadia Boulanger. Her output covers a wide range, from full-length stage works to simple a cappella choral motets, from brass band music to educational piano duets. She has been commissioned by the Royal Opera House Covent Gardern, Scottish Opera, and the Los Angeles Music Center Opera.
Works include: Chamber Concertos (1962, 1966, 1967); Concerto for Orchestra (1967); Mary, Queen of Scots (1977); Christmas Carol (1979); The Last Twilight (1980); Harriet, a Woman called Moses (1984); Pierrot (1985); Echoes Through Time (1988); The Seasons (1988); Song of the Enchanter (1990); Wild Winter (1993); Simon Bolivar (1992).
Publisher Contact: email - email@example.com; web - www.TheaMusgrave.com
JOCELYN POOK (b1960)
British composer and violist; Jocelyn is one of the UK’s most versatile composers having written for stage, screen, opera house and concert hall. She has established an international reputation as a highly original and versatile composer, winning numerous awards and nominations including an Olivier and two British Composer Awards. Pook is perhaps best known for her score to Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which won a Chicago Film Award and a Golden Globe nomination. Pook graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1983, where she studied the viola. She then embarked on a period of touring and recording with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack, Laurie Anderson and PJ Harvey. Since then, Pook has also worked with some of the world’s leading directors, musicians, artists and arts institutions - including Martin Scorsese, Royal Opera House, BBC Proms and English National Ballet. She tours extensively with The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble, performing repertoire from her albums and music from her film scores, and has chaired and been a judge on various panels including the British Composer Awards, Ivor Novello Awards and BBC Proms Young Composers Competition.
Works include: Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Portraits in Absentia (1999), Time Out (L'Emploi du Temps, 2001), Gangs of New York (2003), Speaking in Tunes (2003), The Merchant of Venice (2004), The Government Inspector (2005), Brick Lane (2007), Wonderland (2007/14) from the Ambache Recordings Seven Sisters CD; Ingerland (2010), Desh (2012), Hearing Voices (2012), iTMOi (2013), Trees, Walls, Cities (2013), Drawing Life (2014), Lest We Forget (2014).
Contact: email - firstname.lastname@example.org; web - www.jocelynpook.com
RHIAN SAMUEL (b1944)
Welsh; educated in Britain and the United States. She is Emeritus Professor at City University, London, where until 2009 she taught composition and supervised doctoral research into the music of women composers. She now teaches composition part-time at Magdalen College, Oxford. She co-edited with Julie Anne Sadie The Norton/New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1994). Her music is published by Stainer and Bell and a CD of her chamber music, Light and Water, is available on the Deux-Elles label.
Works include: orchestral music Elegy-Symphony (1980 for the St Louis Symphony Orchestra); Clytemnestra (1994; soprano & orchestra); Tirluniau/Landscapes (2000 BBC Proms - BBC National Orchestra of Wales).
Contact: email - email@example.com; web - www.rhiansamuel.com
SUSIE SELF (b1957)
English; she studied with Stephen Dodgson, Alan Ridout and John Cage. Her works have been performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Brighton, Buxton and Barcelona Festivals, and on BBC Radios 3 and 4. She received a special commendation in the 2004 Nancy Van de Vate International Composition Prize for opera for her music theatre piece based on Jung's life.
Works include: Heron (12'; 1999); What does a Wizard do? (12'; 2000); Heroic Women (80'; 2001); White Crane Spreads Wings (12'; 2001); The Vicar of Stiffkey (12'; 2003) Magnificat/Nunc Dimitis (8'; 2004); South Wind at Clear Dawn (10'; 2003); Great Wave (8'20"); Amida Waterfall (7'20"); 1st symphony (for soprano & symphony orchestra); Three John Drinkwater poems (10'; 2004); Memories, Dreams, Reflections (for mezzo & symphony orchestra; 30'44"; 2004).
Contact: email - SelfmadeMusic@aol.com; web - www.selfmademusic.org
MARIA SZYMANOWSKA (1789-1831)
Polish pianist and composer; In 1822 she was appointed court pianist to the Tsar of Russia in St Petersburg; she later toured extensively in Europe. Her sostenuto cantabile style of playing was considered innovative. She composed more than a hundred pieces, many of them short virtuoso works. Most were published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Hartel. Hummel and Field dedicated piano pieces to her; Goethe is said to have fallen madly in love with her. Critics described her as a musician who defined Romanticism in her compositions and her playing.
Works include: Numerous short piano pieces and songs; Mazurkas, Valses and Études are now published by Hildegard, plus her 1820 Sérènade for cello & piano. Some of these are on the Verlag Dohr CD.
More information on the web - Polish greatness
BARBARA THOMPSON (b1944)
English composer and saxophonist; she had a classical training at the Royal College of Music, while also being inspired by the jazz work of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. In 1977 she formed her own group Paraphernalia, which has toured and recorded extensively. She was awarded an MBE for services to music in 1995. Her performer's understanding of communicating with an audience gives her compositions a popular directness and dynamism.
Works include: Concerto for Three Saxophones & Symphony Orchestra (23'; 1987); Love Songs in Age (50'; 1995); Rhythm of the Gods (50'; 1998); 3 Saxophone Quartets (2001-3); Journey to an Unknown Destination (50'; 2003); Theme & Variations on Mack the Knife, for alto sax & string quartet; Je Ne t'aime pas for sop sax & string quartet; Taking No Prisoners for bass marinba, & grand piano ; (4'; 2003); Tuba Concerto; for EbTuba & Big Band; (2004); Mirages Concerto No 2 for Saxophone Quartet & String Ensemble (2004); Skat, for Piano & Strings (14'; 2004). The Ambache Chamber Ensemble have recorded her Green, on the Oboe Classics CD Melodic Lines.
Contact: email - firstname.lastname@example.org; web - www.Temple-Music.com
JUDITH WEIR (b1954)
Scottish; her music has been commissioned, performed and broadcast internationally. As resident composer for the CBSO in the 1990s, whe wrote several works for chorus and orchestra. Folk music from the British Isles and beyond has influenced a group of string and piano compositions. She is the composer and librettist of several operas, such as 'A Night at the Chinese Opera' (1987). She is visiting Professor at Cardiff University, was appointed a CBE in 2005 and received the ISM Distinguished Musician Award in 2010.
Works include: Missa del Cid (1988); The Vanishing Bridegroom (1990); Blond Eckbert (1993); Piano Concerto (1997); woman.life.song (2000); Bright Cecilia, Variations on a theme of Purcell (2002); Tiger Under the Table (2002); The Voice of Desire (2003); Piano Trio Two (2004); Wake your Wild Voice (2008); Magnificat & Nuc Dimitis (2011).
Contact: email - mark FAO Judith Weir at Cardiff Univ
Publisher - Chester Music
MARGARET LUCY WILKINS (b1939)
English; she was Principal Lecturer in Music at the University of Huddersfield from 1976 to 2003. She has received many awards, including a Scottish Arts Council Award for Composers, and an Arts Council of Great Britain Award for Young British Composers. Her works have been performed at International Festivals in many European countries, and in the USA and Canada. She displays a strong dramatic, gestural and visual approach to sound. Sonic architecture is a feature of her musical aesthetic.
Works include: Struwwelpter (15'; 1973); Burnt Sienna: Etude for String Trio (11'; 1974); 366" for solo trombone (7'; 1986); Symphony (22'; 1989); Musica Angelorum (11'; 1991). Rituelle (7 mobile groups; 16'; 1999); Trompettes de Mort (4 brass & piano;10'; 2003)
Contact: email - email@example.com; web - wilkins at Scottish Music Centre
GRACE WILLIAMS (1906-77)
Welsh; she studied with Vaughan Williams and Gordon Jacob in London and Egon Wellesz in Vienna. Most of her major works were written in response to commissions from the BBC, the Royal National Eisteddford and Festivals at Cardiff and Swansea. Her music includes Welsh folk melody and is shaped by the rhythms of old Welsh poetry and oratory; Her Four Illustrations from the legend of Rhiannon (1939) drew on Welsh culture and legend.
Works include: Fantasia on Old Welsh Nursery Tunes (1940); Sinfonia Concertante for Piano & Orchestra (1940); Symphony No 1 (1943); Sea Sketches for String Orchestra (1944); The Dancers (1951); Penillion (1955); Symphony No 2 (1956); Missa Cambrensis (1971); Ave Maris Stella (1973).
Information: Welsh Music Information Centre: telephone +44 (0)29 2063 5648; Williams at Welsh Info Centre
Principal publisher: Oxford University Press: telephone +44 (0)1865 556767; Williams at OUP