Emmy-winning classical composer Julie Giroux says she didn’t know about any women composers when she was studying music, and when she first entered the field she didn’t meet any, either. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this experience. It’s only in the last few decades that women composers have begun to be recognized in some of the music industry’s top areas.
Quietly, in places ranging from convents to conservatories to farms, extraordinary women have written innovative music without the benefit of fame. Historical archives hint at the challenges they have faced. Critics called composer Ethel Smyth a “little woman” with “utterly unfeminine” works, and Florence Price echoed the concerns of other minority women when she penned in a famous letter: “To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race.”
Great music tells a great story. Be it the story of a moment, the story of a feeling, or the story of a generation, music delivers the message in ways that mere words cannot. The ability to print sheet music spread these stories to people around the world. One of the earliest purveyors of printed music was the company C.F. Peters; in fact, the company was so closely linked to the spread of sheet music that the story of C.F. Peters is, truly, the story of printed music.
If there’s any time during the year that’s best for introducing classical music to the uninitiated listener, it’s summer. Thanks to seasonal changes in venue, pricing, and repertoire for many notable orchestras over the summer months, concerts during this time create an enticing entry point to the art form of live classical music.
When it comes to printed classics, Bärenreiter is at the forefront of the music world. Take a moment to watch and enjoy this video on their newest Urtext editions of classic works. Urtext editions are pieces printed to best represent the intentions of the composer. Bärenreiter’s new Urtext editions give musicians the chance to play music they love exactly as it was meant to be played.
In 2014 we celebrate the 150th birthday of Richard Strauss (June 11, 1864 – September 8, 1949). He is considered by many to be the natural musical successor to Richard Wagner and the leading German composer of the post-Romantic period of music.
The year 2014 could prove to be significant for the legacy of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The second surviving son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 8, 1714, and a flurry of events worldwide will commemorate the 300th anniversary of his birth. Six cities in Germany will hold celebrations this year, with the most extensive in Hamburg, where C.P.E. Bach spent the last twenty years of his life.
If any piece can be said to define the twentieth century, it’s Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The first performance took place almost exactly a year and a month before the first blows of the Great War, and the work’s reputation has continued to grow, leading to a new edition of the score in 2000, and a new boxed CD set of 38 different recordings (!) issued in 2013.
As I write these words, we are no more than a few days away from the hundredth anniversary of one of the great events in musical history. May 29, 1913 was the date of the first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, one of the most tumultuous first performances ever.
Despite the fiscal challenges classical music faces in today’s changing musical landscape, I’m very grateful for the few remaining radio stations dedicated to classical and jazz. I set the tone for my day by listening to our local gem of the airways on my way to work.