Eight composers whose music we should know

In 2022, the BBC Proms commissioned more music from female composers than music from male composers. 2022 also saw the first black female composer write a score for the New York City Ballet company. We can rejoice that contemporary programming is increasingly embracing a wider range of voices. For historical reasons, attitudes towards raising women and racial bias among them, the arts have missed the rich repertoire and creativity of ancient times by many female musicians and composers of various ethnicities, but times are changing. . Here are eight composers whose music is emerging.

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach, 1867-1944.
(Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commonspublic domain)

1. Amy’s Beach

Amy Beach (1867-1944) may not have had the same opportunities as her male counterparts, but despite this she became America’s first successful composer of classical music on a large scale. His “Gaelic” symphony, first performed in 1896, was the first symphony written by an American composer. Among his compositions are a piano concerto, a string quartet and pieces for piano. His music is melodious and elegant, as can be heard in this arrangement for cello and piano of his op. 25. No. 2 (Columbine).

2. Florence Price

Florence Price (1887-1953) was an African-American student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. It is said that she posed as Mexican in order to avoid the racial discrimination of the time. A prolific output of over 300 works, including four symphonies, a piano concertochoral compositions and works for piano and organ secured her reputation as a remarkable composer of the early 20th century.

3. Amelie-Julie Candeille

The French child prodigy Amélie-Julie Candeille (1767-1834) was something of a superstar; she not only composed music, but also found success as a singer, pianist, actress and playwright! His keyboard music, often written for his own interpretation, is virtuosic and firmly in the classical style.

4. Cecile Chaminade

The father of French pianist and composer Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) disapproved of her receiving a musical education. Despite this, she began to study music with her mother and became a student at the prestigious Paris Conservatory. She wrote primarily for the piano and enjoyed considerable success as a performer in the early 20th century, giving recitals in the United States and England.

5. Teresa Carreno

Few can say they have a crater on Venus named after them, or that they performed at the White House for President Abraham Lincoln, but Venezuelan pianist and composer Teresa Carreño (1853-1917) can. ! She enjoyed an international career as a virtuoso pianist, giving concerts all over the world. She composed works for voice and piano, some chamber music, but mostly wrote for piano. Her music is sometimes virtuoso in style but she also had a gift for lyrical melody as heard in this expressive elegy.

6. Elfrida Andree

The Swedish composer and conductor Elfrida Andrée (1841-1929) was one of the first female organists appointed in Scandinavia. She was active in the women’s movement and campaigned for a change in the law to allow women to apply for the position of cathedral organists. She has written chamber and orchestral music, choral and instrumental works and two symphonies for organ. His musical style is lyrical and expressive.

7. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

English composer and conductor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was nicknamed the “Black Mahler” by some white American musicians because of his considerable musical success. his cantata, The Hiawatha Wedding Feast, was hugely popular and played frequently in Britain and around the world. He was born in London to an English mother and a father from Sierra Leone. In his music, for example in 24 piano pieces based on spirituals op. 59, he aimed to integrate traditional African music into the classical tradition in the same way that composers like Brahms had done with Hungarian folk music.

8. Francesca Lebrun

A contemporary exact composer of Mozart, Francesca Lebrun (1756-1791) was a German composer and opera singer famous for her vocal playing and virtuosity. It is said that she could sing A three octaves above middle C. His compositions include works for violin and harpsichord and they exhibit many characteristics of the classical style: rapid scale and arpeggio passages and direct phrasing and harmony.

The list could of course go on: Clara Schumann, Nathaniel Dett, Lucien Lambert and many others. Indeed, now is the time to celebrate that so many previously overlooked or forgotten composers are coming back to light. By compiling solo time for cello, we have strived to bring this music to a wider audience in the hope that students can be inspired and encouraged to discover more.

Featured Image: Portrait of Francesca Lebrun (1756-1791), via Wikimedia Commonspublic domain

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