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Women Composers
The Lost Tradition Found

19th Century & Early 20th Century Instrumental Music by Women

Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) was a prolific composer whose music was performed and acclaimed during her lifetime. She combined many roles: composer, virtuosic pianist, eminent teacher, wife and mother, and researcher and editor of outstanding achievement. In addition to producing a substantial catalog of works for piano, chamber groups, and orchestra, Louise Farrenc was Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatoire for over thirty years. Her compositions were praised by Berlioz and Schumann, among others. As a pianist, she was often heard in the elite salons of the French capital. Most of Farrenc's chamber music was written in the 1840's and 50's, and includes four trios, two piano quintets, a cello sonata, two violin sonatas, a sextet, and a nonet. Scherzo from the Trio in E minor and Adagio-Allegro (Finale) from Nonetto, Op. 38 are on this 2-CD set. (The complete Trio in E minor is on Leonarda cassette #LE304cs). The Clarke work may be reissued in its entirety in the future.

Louise Héritte-Viardot (1841-1919) was the daughter of Pauline Viardot-Garcia, whose songs are on these CDs. Héritte-Viardot's bio is forthcoming.

Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) had already composed several sacred works by age eight. Bizet advised her parents to give her a good musical education, so she studied piano, harmony, counterpoint and fugue with various teachers and composition with Godard. At 18, she gave her debut as a pianist and toured France and England, often performing her own works. She wrote a great number of agreeable pieces in salon style which attained extraordinary vogue in France, England and America. Her large works were less successful, although her piano concerto was performed at the Gewandhaus, Cologne, Lamoureaux and London Philharmonic concerts. France bestowed the Legion of Honor on Chaminade for her 350 works in all genres. She performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1908 and also made appearances as a conductor.

Amy Beach (1867-1944), who signed her music Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, was a member of the Second New England School of composers. Although strongly influenced by German late Romantic music, she also was among the composers who experimented with the fusion of folk and art music in a search for an American national style, a fact that has only recently been acknowledged. From 1892 almost to her death, Beach quoted, in about thirty compositions, melodies from Irish, Scottish, African American, Native American, and European sources. Franz Boas's The Central Eskimo, published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1888, provided Beach with melodies she used in three works, including the String Quartet in One Movement, Op. 89 (excerpt). The complete work is on Leonarda CD #LE336.

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979), who was born in England, began composing at the age of sixteen and was the first woman composer to win the prestigious Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy. She switched from violin to viola and supported herself as a supply player around London. A superb musician, she played chamber music with Myra Hess, Casals, Heifetz, Thibaud, Szell, Rubinstein, Schnabel, Pierre Monteux and Percy Grainger, among others. As a soloist, Clarke played throughout Great Britain, made several tours in Europe and America, and in 1923, toured around the world. In 1919, her Sonata for Viola and Piano tied with Bloch's Suite for Viola and Piano for the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge prize, but since there couldn't be a tie, Mrs. Coolidge cast a vote - for Bloch. Clarke was in the U.S. when Britain entered World War II, and was not allowed to return for the duration of the war, since she had an American parent and Britain had too many mouths to feed. She remained in America for the remainder of her life, where she continued to teach. She lectured for many years at the Chautauqua Institute and had a weekly radio program about chamber music. Most of Clarke's works were written in the first half of her life. Her oeuvre consists of 58 vocal works and 24 instrumental chamber works.

Lili Boulanger's (1893-1918) mother was a talented singer and her father, who was 79 when Lili was born, taught composition and voice at the Paris Conservatoire. Lili began to go to music classes with her sister Nadia at the age of three and at age six she sight-read Fauré's songs with the composer at the piano. When she was 16 she could play piano, violin, cello and harp and she composed long before she studied composition formally. At 19 she became the first woman to win the Prix de Rome, the greatest recognition a young French composer could attain. The prize provided a year's study in Rome, but Lili's stay was cut short by illness, and she died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. She was able to complete more than 50 works during her short life.Continue t

o Six American Composers



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