French born Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) was arguably one of the best known women to compose music in her lifetime and was extremely popular in America. Known for her salon pieces, Chaminade also scored many large works.
She was able to achieve a strong music education despite her father’s disapproval. She performed some of her earliest works for Georges Bizet and gave her first formal concert at age eighteen. Nearly all of her salon pieces were published in her lifetime and she toured France, England, and the United States in her lifetime. Chaminade was well respected in her lifetime – Ambroise Thomas said of her, “This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.”
Though her list of compositions include over 170 opus numbers, the piece she is primarily known for today (and still, on great occasion, heard) is the Flute Concertino (op. 107) composed in 1902. However, much of her work is still available and in the public domain.
Below is one of many recordings made and posted by enthusiastic musicians on YouTube – this of an etude for piano: