Women classical composers – the September edition

Like most things historical, women are underrepresented in the genre of classical music. In spite of the odds being against them, a few women wrote some exceptional classical music that survives to the present day. They deserve more exposure. So it feels like a good idea to do my bit to mitigate our cultural musical myopia.

Below are 7 female classical composers I have on my iPod right now, with one song link for each.


Isabella_Leonarda-218x300Isabella Leonarda (Sept 6, 1620) was one of the most productive woman composers of her time. At the age of 16 she entered an Ursuline convent where she stayed for the remainder of her life. She is most renowned for the compositions that she created during her time at the convent. Her published compositions span a period of 60 years. She composed in nearly every sacred genre: concertos, dialogues, psalm settings, responsories, Magnificats, litanies, masses, and sonata da chiesa.




josephaJosepha Barbara Auernhammer (Sept 25, 1758) was an Austrian pianist and composer. She wrote mainly piano works which are characterized by extensive knowledge of piano technique. In 1781 her family took Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a border, and she became one of his first students.




Clara Schumann (Sept 13, 1819) was a  musician and composer, clara-wieck-schumann-2considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. She was a child prodigy and was a sensation in Europe by the time she reached her mid-teens. She continued performing and composing even after her marriage to Robert Schumann; which was very rare feat for a 19th century woman. Her career spanned six decades.




amy-beachAmy Beach (Sept 5, 1867) was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. She published nearly 150 works and was the first by a woman to be performed by Boston Symphony.




Nadia Boulanger
(16 September 1887) Nadia Boulangerwas a French composer, conductor, and teacher. She is notable for having taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century.







guranNazife Güran (Sept 5, 1921) was a Turkish composer. I know very little about her.







And finally, one living woman composer:

helen giffordHelen Gifford (Sept 5, 1935) is a composer for stage, orchestra, chamber ensemble and solo instruments with a special interest in music for the theatre.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s