Back to Navigation page
Women of Note logo
two hundred and fifty years
of music by women

In 2010 Birmingham Conservatoire set up a prize for the best performance of works by a woman composer. The purpose of the prize is to encourage students to research and perform this repertoire.

Twenty two students entered the first competition, seventeen, the second, four groups in the third, and five in the fourth; I was part of the adjudicating panel of the finals on 11/6/10, 10/5/11, 24/4/12 and 1/5/13.

I would like to thank Prof David Saint, Acting Principal of the Conservatoire, his staff, and all the excellent students who explored unfamiliar music and produced highly committed performances.

The repertoire below is what I heard at the four Finals, and illustrates some of the great range of music that women compose. It is organised by instrumentation.

alto sax & pianoBrillianceIda Gotkovsky b19339'www.musicroom.com4 short movements, ranging from demonstrative to dolce.
alto sax & pianoVariations PathetiquesIda Gotkovsky b1933c10'www.musicroom.com6 short movements: 1) Declamando con passione (declamatory); V) Con simplicita (bluesey).
alto sax & piano Light of SothisAmy Quate b1953 5'www.musicroom.com3 short movements: Grace, Passion & Faith.
alto sax & piano Chanson et PassepiedJeanine Rueff 1922-19994'www.musicroom.comLight and graceful.
flute & pianoGoldfish Through Summer RainAnne Boyd b19465'www.musicroom.comSomewhat undistinguished.
flute & pianoFlute Concertino
Op 107 (c1902)
Cécile Chaminade 1857-19448'www.musicroom.comAn attractive, melodic and decorative piece; the graceful opening melody returns after a more active middle section and cadenza, and comes to a rousing end.
mezzo-soprano & pianoCry, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo (1999)Alison Bauld b19443'NovelloIncludes unusual singing into the piano lid and some story telling; entertaining.
mezzo-soprano & pianoChanson Triste (1898) L'amour captif (1893) & Nice-la-belle (1889)Cécile Chaminade 1857-19442' & 1.30' & 3'Sad, swaying, then fun.
mezzo-soprano & piano Greeting (1928)Rebecca Clarke 1886-19792'?BooseyA soft, inner setting of words by Ella Young, with Clarke's penchant for dark atmospheres.
mezzo-soprano & piano The Seal Man (1922)Rebecca Clarke 1886-19796'Boosey & HawkesA dark, dramatic setting of words by John Masefield, with a tragic end.
mezzo-soprano & pianoThree Shakespeare Songs (1949)Madeleine Dring 1923-776'www.musicroom.comI. A pastoral romance; II. Plaintive word painting; III. Festive and sometimes sarcastic 'heigh-ho'.
mezzo-soprano & pianoA Cornford Cycle (1974)Elaine Hugh-Jones b1927c15'?8 songs, setting text by Frances Cornford, include Bicker's Cottage, The Old Woman at the Flower Show, and The Madman and the Child.
mezzo-soprano & pianoDie Stille Stadt (1910)Alma Mahler 1879-19643'UniversalFin-de-siècle setting of Richard Dehmal words, including some bold romantic harmonies.
mezzo-soprano & pianoHave you seen but a bright lily grow? (1929)Elizabeth Maconchy 1907-442'ChesterPoignant setting of a Ben Johnson poem.
mezzo-soprano & pianoDer Mond kommt still gegangen (1842)Clara Schumann 1819-962'?Sincere, beautiful contemplation of peaceful moonrise; text by Emanuel Geibel.
mezzo-soprano & pianoSie liebten sich beide (1843)Clara Schumann 1819-962'?Halting, quiet tragedy; text by Heirich Heine.
mezzo-soprano & pianoMystynEirian Williams 1958-20063'Welsh Sheet MusicA heartfelt Welsh song.
mezzo-soprano & pianoThe Loom (1960)Grace Williams 1906-773'OUPA sorrowful Welsh folk song.
mezzo-soprano & pianoBonjour mon coeurPauline Viardot 1821-19102'www.hildegard.comPlayful, French chanson.
mezzo-soprano & pianoHaï Luli; &
Les filles de Cadix
Pauline Viardot 1821-19104' & 3'?www.musicroom.comAn attractive pair: sad first, and then dancing a bolero (to Alfred de Musset words).
piano Piano Sonata No 2 (1953)Grazyna Bacewicz 1909-196917'Chappell or PWMStrong piano writing, with a wide emotional range; central Largo has East European anguish, and final Toccata has good crisp engine drive and cumulative end.
piano trio Piano Trio No 1 Op 11 (1881)Cécile Chaminade 1857-194423'www.hildegard.comA fine, youthful (age 24) work; a graceful and attractive opening movement, contrasts with the glowing 2nd; piano cascades in the 3rd lead to a spectaular conclusion in the Finale.
soprano & pianoWhite TaraVeleka Algar b19733'veleka1@hotmail.comEffective use of a Tibetan singing bowl and soprano with vocal harmonics.
soprano & pianoStripsody (1966)Cathy Berberian 1925-834'www.edition-peters.comA highly amusing collection of onomatopeic sounds of comic strips. Needs good acting.
soprano & pianoRequiem (Song Cycle)Nadezhda Krasnovac15'www.ecspublishing.comBased on A. Achmatova: I. Already Madness, With its Wings. II. Again a Memorial Hour is Near. III You were taken away at Dawn's Mildness. IV. To Death You'll Come in any Case. V. I've cried for Seventeen Long Month.
soprano & pianoCocky RobinBetty Roe b19304'Thames Publishing or www.musicroom.comA pacy, updated version of a traditional English nursery rhyme.
soprano & pianoFive Betjeman Songs (1976)Madeleine Dring 1923-7712'www.musicroom.comA light and entertaining setting of John Betjeman's observations of the British and their surroundings. No 5 is the amusing Song of a Nightclub Proprietress.
soprano & pianoLorelei (1843)Clara Schumann 1819-963'www.hildegard.comA beautiful setting of Heine's description of the effects of a maiden's singing.
soprano & pianoSechs Lieder aus Jucunde, Op 23 (1855)Clara Schumann 1819-9615'www.breitkopf.comA collection of 6 songs, that she was pleased with, based on Hermann Rollett's novel.
soprano & pianoThough Love Be a Day (1979)Gwyneth Walker b194716'www.ecspublishing.comAn attractive, romantic, accessible setting of 5 poems by e e cummings and Gwyneth Walker, with a span of ideas from playful and lighthearted to thoughtful closing.
1 soprano, 2 mezzos
& piano
Bring to Life (2012)Veleka Algar b19735'veleka1@hotmail.comAn entertaining sequence, playing with rhythms.
1 soprano, 2 mezzos
& piano
Les Sirènes (1911)Lili Boulanger 1893-19185'www.musicroom.comAn attractive setting of a poem by C. Grandmougin, of course, with a French, watery atmosphere.
1 soprano, 2 mezzosWand'l ich in dem Wald des Abends (1835)Fanny Mendelssohn 1805-18473'www.furore-verlag.deA dreamy a cappella walk in the woods, on a poem by Heinrich Heine.
1 soprano, 2 mezzos
& piano
Les Trio Belles Demoiselles (c1880)Pauline Viardot 1821-19103'www.musicroom.comThere is some humour, included along with her great melodic skills.
string quartetString Quartet in A
Op 44 (c1920)
Halina Krzyzanowska 1860-192716'Jacques Hamelle?An interesting Quartet (by a pianist), with good part writing. A whistful opening movement is followed by a tragic Andante, which includes some beautiful delicate music; the Finale has a slightly pompous manner, with a full-tilt ending.
tuba & pianoConcerto for Tuba, 'Wars and Rumous of Wars' (c2006)Barbara York b194920'www.cimarronmusic.comNot surprisingly, the Marcato opening movement resounds with marching; the yearning Tranquilo then moves on to a mock romantic Furioso, including an evocative bluesey section.
viola & pianoSonata (1919)Rebecca Clarke 1886-197916'www.hildegard.comThis major work ranges from an opening declamatory fanfare, to a playful (and reflective) Vivace, to sensuous virtuosity.
viola & pianoThree Romances, Op 22 (1853)Clara Schumann 1819-9610'www.sheetmusicplusThese three expressive miniatures transfer from the violin well, and show Clara's characteristic romantic thoughtfulness.

Back to top or Back to Navigation page