Classical Music Moonlighters

The Guardian has a great piece up highlighting “Classical Music Moonlighters“. The list of composers who worked on music after they finished their day jobs includes: Ethel Smyth (who was a composer first and turned to writing books – including a multi-volume autobiography – later in life) St. Hildegard of Bingen (abbess, mystic, healer, author, composer) Lera Auerbach (a novelist and visual artist, she is also well-known in Russia as a poet) Which makes me think: who else?  Clara Schumann was a pianist first and a composer second, and Nadia Boulanger was an educator first.  How many women were first…

Hildegard gets Top Billing at Musicology Conference

The American Musicological Society (together with the Society for Music Theory) is holding its annual conference next week in Milwaukee, WI.  We are happy to note that the AMS President’s Endowed Plenary Lecture (Nov. 6) is a fascinating report on an interdisciplinary project.  The official abstract follows: Hildegard’s Cosmos and Its Music: Making a Digital Model for the Modern Planetarium Margot Fassler (University of Notre Dame) Introduced by AMS President Christopher Reynolds (University of California, Davis) The work reported on in this talk is a collaborative effort involving forces performative, scholarly, and technological. Because of the way Hildegard describes her understanding of…

Hildegard's Feast Day

Today is the Feast day of one of the best known women composers – and, typically, the only one to be included in a music history textbook – is Hildegard of Bingen. A 12th century abbess in Germany, Hildegard is remembered for being one of the first women to stand up against the Catholic Church and be heard.  A composer, mystic, and healer, her work continues to inspire renewed interest in contemporary scholars and theologians.  In fact, one of the few publishers who devote their catalog to works by women composers, Hildegard Publishing, is named for the abbess.  Her life recently inspired…

NPR's "Biggest Badass Composers"

NPR’s Deceptive Cadence picked up on a twitter feed recently questioning which composer is the “biggest badass”, with qualifications to include drugs, sex, guts and politics. The list of composers included (surprise!!!) no women. Though the list, which was compiled here, did include Carlo Gesualdo, a late Renaissance composer who is remembered for his madrigals, chromaticism, and having murdered his wife and her lover and placing their bodies on display. (Interesting that instead of being remembered as a murderer he is praised as being “badass”…) But this omission of women must have been an oversight – especially considering all of…