Composers You Should Know: Ethel Smyth

Saturday, April 23 marks the 158th birthday of Dame Ethel Smyth. Known for going against norms (defying her father in receiving a music education, composed operas in Victorian England, fiercely advocated for women’s rights and women’s suffrage, and was not secretive about being a lesbian) her works have largely fallen into obscurity – though not entirely. Last summer Leon Botstein presented the first fully staged production of Smyth’s The Wreckers at Bard.  (We wrote about the premiere here – and were fortunate to have Amy Zigler write about her experience attending a performance. More recently, the New York Times reminded readers that Smyth’s Der Wald…

Composers You Should Know: Germaine Tailleferre

This past Tuesday, April 19, marked the 124th birthday of French composer Germaine Tailleferre.  She is remembered predominately for being the only female member of Les Six, a group of French composers (other members included Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, and Francis Poulenc). Tailleferre attended the Paris Conservatory against her father’s wishes.  Her talent was evident from an early age, and she won many awards.  She composed throughout her life – reportedly even until a few weeks before her death.  Though much of her work is for chamber ensembles, she also composed several works for full orchestra, as…

Composers You Should Know: Louise Reichardt

Today marks the 237th birthday of German composer Louise Reichardt. The daughter of Juliane and Johann Fridrick Reichardt – both of whom were also accomplished composers – she was fortunate to receive tremendous support in her musical endeavors.   Louise primarily composed Lieder, four of which were published in 1800 in a collection of her father’s works.  In addition to composition, Louise was an active choral conductor. Several of her works are available in the public domain through the Petrucci Music Library.   Have a listen to one of her songs below:   Be sure to download the April Calendar and never…

Composers You Should Know: Mary Howe

Today (April 4) is the 134th birthday of American pianist and composer Mary Howe. An incredibly prolific composer, Howe was fortunate to be born into a wealthy and supportive family.  After receiving piano lessons from an early age, Howe was performing professionally by age 18.  She completed formal study in composition at Peabody Conservatory, and was also a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. Her oeuvre includes works for large ensembles  (chorus and orchestra), as well as chamber ensembles (solo voice and piano).  Though she received great praise throughout her lifetime for her works, many of her pieces remain unpublished. Her papers, including manuscripts of…