Women Composers

Women Composers

Learn more about Women's History Month and the influence of women in music as composers, conductors, performers and more!

Eleanor Alberga

September 30, 1949 -

Modern Period

Born in Jamaica

Eleanor Alberga was born in Kingston, Jamaica. When she was 5 year old she decided she wanted to become a concert pianist and by the age of 10 was composing music for the piano. After studying at the Jamaica School of Music, Alberga received a scholarship that she used to attend the Royal Academy of Music in London, England. She fulfilled her dream to be a concert pianist and also was pianist for The London Contemporary Dance Company. She has been composing full time since 2001 and writes music for dance, as well as orchestra, choral and chamber music, and solo instruments. Alberga set Roald Dahl's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to music for symphony orchestra and narrators. She founded the Arcadia Music Festival with her husband, violinist Thomas Bowes; and opened the famous Last Night of the BBC Proms with Arise Athena!, a piece for orchestra and choir.

 


Amanda Ira Aldridge

- March 09, 1956

Modern Period

Born in England

Amanda Ira Aldridge was a British opera singer and composer. Her father was Ira Frederick Aldridge, an African American Shakespearean actor. She won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London and worked as a concert singer, piano accompanist and voice teacher. Aldridge became famous singing throughout Europe until laryngitis ended her career. She then turned her attention to composing, especially art songs using the poetry of African American poets for lyrics, and teaching. Her students included famous African-American concert singers and composers Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Lawrence Benjamin Brown and Roland Hayes.

 


Lera Auerbach

October 21, 1973 -

Modern Period

Born in Russia

Lera Auerbach is a Soviet-Russian born American pianist and composer whose works are frequently commissioned by a variety of artists and ensembles including Gidon Kremer, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Danish Ballet.

 


Amy Beach

September 05, 1867 - December 27, 1944

Late Romantic Period

Born in USA

Amy Beach was the first American woman to find success as a composer. She was born Amy Cheney in New Hampshire, and later moved to Boston, where she became well known as a pianist and composer. Amy could play by ear any music she heard, and at the age of four, she composed her first piano pieces in her head. Her mother actually taught her to play the piano when she was six, and at seven she gave her first public performance.

After her marriage to Dr. Henry Beach, she turned her focus to composing, and only gave recitals once a year. Beach was first known for her art songs, but then received national and international attention for her larger works, including a symphony, violin sonata and piano quintet. Many of her works have returned to the concert stage, and hundreds have been recorded.

 


Hildegard von Bingen

January 01, 1098 - September 17, 1179

Early Music Period

Born in Germany

Hildegard von Bingen (Hildegard of Bingen) was a German nun who established her own convent, and was famous for her prophecies and miracles. In addition to writing poetry, she wrote books about religion and medicine - and she composed music. Only 77 songs of hers remain after all these years.

 


Margaret Bonds

March 03, 1913 - April 26, 1972

Modern Period

Born in United States

Margaret Bonds was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a doctor and her mother was an organist and Margaret's first music teacher. She was 5 years old when she wrote her first music composition. In high school she studied with Florence Price and William Levi Dawson. Bonds was one of the first African American composers and performers to gain recognition in the United States and is remembered for her popular arrangements of spirituals, as well as her collaboration with Langston Hughes. She also wrote solo songs, classical instrumental works, and film music. She was the first African American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Florence Price's Concerto in F Major for piano and orchestra (the first orchestral work by an African American woman the orchestra had ever performed.)

 


Nadia Boulanger

September 16, 1887 - October 22, 1979

Modern Period

Born in France

Nadia Boulanger is most known as a teacher, although she also was a successful composer and conductor. She was one of the founding members of the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau and also taught at the Paris Conservatory. She had a heavy influence on twentieth-century music because she taught many of its leading composers including Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, and Astor Piazzolla.

 


Francesca Caccini

September 18, 1587 - 1640

Baroque Period

Born in Italy

Singer, composer, and teacher, Francesca Caccini came from a musical family. She was  the daughter of famous composer Giulio Caccini and made her debut singing her father's music at the wedding of Marie de' Medici and Henry IV. Henry IV was so impressed by her talent that he requested she join his court as a musician. Her father claimed that she was not granted permission from her current family of service, the Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici of Tuscany. Some scholars, however, believe Giulio made a false claim, not wanting to lose control over his daughter.

In 1607, when Caccini was just 20, she was appointed to sing and compose for the court of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany by the Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine, who controlled the court at the time. The fact that the court was controlled by a woman likely helped Caccini's career to blossom, giving her more opportunities than she may have experienced otherwise.

Caccini's talent was respected and she worked hard to establish her career - a difficult task for a woman in that era. That being said, she still held the status of a servant in the court. Sadly, many of her works were lost following her lifetime.

 


Mathilde Casazola

February 19, 1942 -

Modern Period

Born in Bolivia

Poet and songwriter Matilde Casazala was born to a mother who was also a poet and composer and a father who was a language teacher. She began writing poetry at age 8 and would write and recite poetry with her sister, Gabriela. As a teenager, she began playing guitar and would study with guitarist Pedro García Ripoll. Along with her books of poetry (the first one published in 1967), Casazala has released several recordings of her works, and many Bolivian artists have interpreted her writings.

When asked about her poems and songs, she has said, ''My poetic works have often come to me in the darkness of sleepless nights…The majority of these melodies come with a poetic idea, too, so trying to decipher them and put them on paper is an interesting adventure.''

 


Cecile Chaminade

August 08, 1857 - April 13, 1944

Late Romantic Period

Born in France

Cecile Chaminade received her first music lessons from her mother, who was a pianist and singer. When Cecile wanted to study at the Paris Conservatory, her father wouldn't let her, so she wound up being taught privately by Conservatory professors. She especially focused on composing and her works were well received. She promoted sales of her music through concert tours and performed regularly in England, often as a guest of Queen Victoria.

She also became popular in the United States, where she performed in 12 cities in 1908. Considering the difficulties she faced as a woman composer, the large number of her compositions - almost 200 piano works and 125 songs - is worthy of note.

 


Chen Yi

April 04, 1953 -

Modern Period

Born in China

Violinist and composer Chen Yi was the first Chinese woman to receive a Master of Arts (M.A.) in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Chen was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her composition Si Ji (Four Seasons), and has received awards from the Koussevistky Music Foundation[1] and American Academy of Arts and Letters (Lieberson Award),[2] as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.[3] In 2010, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School [4] and in 2012, she was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association.

 


Rebecca Clarke

August 27, 1886 - October 13, 1979

Modern Period

Born in England

Rebecca Clarke was an English composer and performer who lived during the early twentieth century. She began her music studies early, being forced along with her siblings to perform on demand for their father. She received her first formal education from the Royal Academy of Music, but her father forced her to withdraw after he received word that one of her teachers proposed marriage.

After withdrawing from the Royal Academy of Music, Rebecca went on to become Charles Stanford's first female student at the Royal College of Music. He encouraged her to switch her instrument from violin to viola, with which she would later tour internationally.

Though Rebecca was thrown out of her home in her twenties, she did not despair. Instead, she used the opportunity to focus more on her musical studies and performance schedule. Some of her notable accomplishments include becoming the first female to play with the Queen's Hall Orchestra as well as founding her own female ensemble - the English Ensemble piano quartet.

 


Reena Esmail

February 11, 1983 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, to bring communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail holds degrees from The Juilliard School (BM'05) and the Yale School of Music (MM'11, MMA'14, DMA'18). Esmail's work has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Richmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle, Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Choir, the Elora Festival, Juilliard 415 and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Amherst College Choir and Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Conspirare. In addition, Esmail is Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting musical traditions of India and the West.

 


Louise Farrenc

May 31, 1804 - September 15, 1875

Romantic Period

Born in France

Louise Farrenc was a pianist, teacher, and composer. She taught piano at the Paris Conservatory for 30 years and was also considered to be one of the greatest female composers of the nineteenth century. She wrote music for the piano as well as for chamber groups and orchestra. She was encouraged to pursue music studies by her husband, Aristide Farrenc, who owned a publishing house that published Louise's music.

 


Gabriela Lena Frank

September 26, 1972 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Gabriela Lena Frank is a concert pianist and award-winning composer who has written works for major artists including Yo-Yo Ma, as well as some of the world's best chamber groups and orchestras. Her mother was from Peruvian/Chinese descent and her father from Lithuanian/Jewish descent. This multi-cultural heritage has influenced many of her compositions. She also finds inspiration in the works of Bela Bartok and Alberto Ginastera, as well as Latin-American folklore.

 


Chiquinha Gonzaga

- February 28, 1935

Modern Period

Born in Brazil

Chiquinha Gonzaga was a composer, pianist and the first woman conductor in Brazil. Chiquinha's mother was the daughter of a slave and her father was a white man from a noble family who defied that family to marry her. As part of a military family, Gonzaga was well educated, learning to read and write, do math and play the piano. She composed her first piece of music when she was 11. Music was Gonzaga's passion. Her family arranged for her to be married to naval officer. But when he disapproved of her music, Chiquinha chose music over him causing a scandal. She then worked as a piano teacher and performer to support her children. Welcomed by the artistic community, Gonzaga became successful as a composer and one of the first pianists of the Brazilian ''choro'' style of jaunty, fast music. Gonzaga's music included elements from Brazilian culture and was known to mix Portuguese melodies with African traditional beats.

 


Joy Harjo

May 09, 1951 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a three-time U.S. Poet Laureate who has published 14 books of poetry, several plays and children's books. She is also a musician who has written, performed, and released five albums of her original music. She has taught poetry and serves as the director of For Girls Becoming, an art mentorship program for young Mvskoke women.

 


Jennifer Higdon

December 31, 1962 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn, New York. She originally studied flute at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, but then went to the University of Pennsylvania for degrees in composition. She has studied composition with George Crumb and Ned Rorem, and conducting with Robert Spano. Now, she teaches composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her works have been recorded on over two-dozen CDs. In 2004, her CD Concerto for Orchestra / City Scape, recorded by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, won a Grammy Award. Her composition, blue cathedral is one of the most performed orchestra works by a living composer.

 


Nora Douglas Holt

1885 - January 25, 1974

Modern Period

Born in United States

Born Lena Douglas in Kansas City, Nora Douglas Holt achieved many firsts in her life. She was the first African American woman to earn a Masters' Degree in music. She was the first African American member of the Music Critics Circle of New York and she co-founded the National Association of Negro Musicians.

Lena studied piano as a child and grew up around Western University of Quindaro and Wyandotte County, the first African American school west of the Mississippi River. Her parents were closely associated with the school and when her father wrote the words to the school song, Lena wrote the music – at age 12. She studied composition, musicology and music criticism there and graduated as Class Valedictorian.

She moved to Chicago where she earned her Masters' Degree and worked as a music critic while also composing and performing. She changed her name to Nora Holt when she married her fourth husband. After he died, Holt moved to New York City and played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Only 2 of her more than 200 compositions now exist because they were stolen from storage while she traveled. In the 1950s and 1960s, she hosted the radio show, Concert Showcase.

 


Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre

March 17, 1665 - June 27, 1729

Baroque Period

Born in France

Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre was one of the earliest-known female composers who lived and worked during the Baroque era. She was born into a musical family of organists and even later married an organist! She herself was a prodigy, first performing for King Louis XIV at age five. She was the first woman in France to write an opera and was well known for her improvisations and writing works for the keyboard, chamber music, and vocal music.

After the loss of both her husband and son, she retreated from the public eye and focused more on in-home concerts and composition.

 


Eunice Katunda

March 14, 1915 - August 03, 1990

Modern Period

Born in Brazil

Eunice Katunda was born in Rio de Janeiro and began studying piano early in her life, then moved on to studying composition. In her late 20's, she worked as a concert pianist and was part of the Music Viva ensemble that one of her composition teachers, Hans-Joachim Koellreuter, founded. They then went to Paris to study conducting and several years later, she studied Brazilian folk music. She was a prolific composer, writing pieces for large and small orchestras, choruses, and piano, and taught musicology and composition.

 


Libby Larsen

December 24, 1950 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

American composer Libby Larsen was born in Delaware, but now lives in Minnesota. She has written songs, chamber music, symphonies, and operas for both children and grown-ups. She is a strong advocate for music education and for women in music. In 1973, she founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now called the American Composers Forum, to link composers to communities and develop more opportunities for new music. She has received many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a 1994 Grammy Award for the recording that includes her song cycle Sonnets from the Portuguese.

 


Tania Leon

May 14, 1943 -

Modern Period

Born in Cuba

Cuban-born composer and conductor Tania Leon has won numerous awards for her work. She has received commissions from the world's most prestigious ensembles including the LA Master Chorale, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She is the founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the founder and artistic director of Composers Now, a non-profit in New York City that serves to empower living composers. She also has served as the U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. She currently works as a professor at Brooklyn College and at the Graduate Center of CUNY.

 


Lili'uokalani

September 02, 1838 - November 11, 1917

Romantic Period

Born in USA

Lili'uokalani was the last monarch of Hawaii before the island became a territory, and later a state of the United States of America. She was known for writing songs in her spare time and composed 160 during her lifetime.

 


Marianna Martines

May 04, 1744 - December 13, 1812

Classical Period

Born in Austria

Marianna Martines began her studies in music at a young age, learning from several important names in music history including Franz Joseph Haydn. She studied voice, piano, and composition, and write her first piece of music when she was just twelve years old. Marianna was elected to the Musical Academy of Bologna and also founded a singing school. She was known for holding weekly musical soirees, or parties, in her home that attracted many well-known individuals in Vienna at the time.

 


Missy Mazzoli

October 27, 1980 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Missy Mazzoli is a successful composer whose music has been performed by many major artists including the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Emanuel Ax, the New York City Opera, the LA Philharmonic, and many more. She recently founded Luna Lab, a mentorship program for young female composers. Missy is also a performer. She plays piano and often performs with Victoire, a band she founded in 2008 that focuses on performing her works.

 


Fanny Mendelssohn

November 14, 1805 - May 14, 1847

Romantic Period

Born in Germany

Fanny Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, Germany, and grew up in Berlin. As a kid, Fanny took music lessons and performed with her younger brother Felix, who also grew up to be a famous musician. They both played the piano and composed. They also liked to put on plays. Their father had no problem with his son being a professional musician, but he told Fanny that there was only one suitable thing for her to become: a housewife. Fanny did get married, to an artist named Wilhelm Hensel, after which she was known as Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel. He encouraged her to compose.

When Fanny and Felix were children, the Mendelssohn family held regular Sunday afternoon concerts in their home. Much of the music Fanny composed was for those performances. Even though she never had the career her brother Felix did, Fanny wrote over 400 pieces of music. She is especially known for her songs and her "Songs Without Words" small pieces for solo piano.

Listen to a special show about women composers including Fanny Mendelssohn.

 


Thea Musgrave

May 27, 1928 -

Modern Period

Born in Scotland

Thea Musgrave was born in Scotland but now lives in the United States. Her music includes everything from huge operas to very small choral pieces. Just like Aaron Copland, she studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger - and later, she studied with Copland as well.

Musgrave is highly regarded as an opera composer and has achieved much success with her works for the stage. She has been also recognized for her work developing and promoting opera in Norfolk, Virginia.

Naomi recently created this profile of Thea Musgrave for NPR's Here & Now progam.

 


Jacqueline Nova

January 06, 1935 - June 13, 1975

Modern Period

Born in Belgium

A founder of electroacoustic music in Colombia, Jacqueline Nova began studying piano at age 7 and was the first woman to earn a degree in composition from the Colombian National Conservatory of Music. Her avant-garde compositions often involved mixing electronic noise, orchestral music, and voices. She also created a sound installation called ''Creation of the Earth'' which explored the difference between noise and sound.

 


Tawnie Olson

November 19, 1974 -

Modern Period

Born in Canada

The music of Canadian composer Tawnie Olson draws inspiration from politics, spirituality, the natural world, and the musicians for whom she composes. Winner of the 2018 Barlow Prize and the 2015 Iron Composer Competition, she has been Composer-in-Residence of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, an American Composers Forum BandQuest Composer-in-Residence at E.C. Adams School in Guilford, Conn., and she received a Connecticut Artist Fellowship. Olson has received commissions from the Canadian Art Song Project, Third Practice/New Music USA, the Canada Council for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College/The Women's Philharmonic, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, Ithaca College, the American Composers Forum, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music's Robert Baker Commissioning Fund, among others. Her music is performed on five continents and can be heard on many recordings.

In a recent American Composers Forum video, Olson shared this advice with students: ''Composing is like anything else—it's like playing your instrument, or cooking, or riding a bike. When you first start, it's hard, and it doesn't always look pretty. But if you keep at it, you'll get better at it… Young composers should just write as much as they can, and then they should make friends with performers. If they already have friends who play music, they should write music for their friends and play together.''

 


Florence Price

April 09, 1887 - June 03, 1953

Modern Period

Born in USA

Florence Price is most known as the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major American orchestra. She studied with George Chadwick at the New England Conservatory and later wrote radio jingles and popular songs in addition to her more serious compositions.

 


Kaija Saariaho

October 14, 1952 -

Modern Period

Born in Finland

Award-winning Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho is known for combining live music with electronics. Her work at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music in Paris has influenced her compositions. Though she is mostly known for her chamber music, she has also written several larger-scale works including opera.

 


Clara Schumann

September 13, 1819 - May 20, 1896

Romantic Period

Born in Germany

Before she was even born, Clara Schumann's father had determined that she would be a star at the keyboard. Her father, Fredrich Wieck, was a piano teacher, and he saw to it that she studied music, performed and composed - all at an early age. Clara toured all over Europe, wowing audiences with her playing, and her compositions.

When Clara fell in love with Robert Schumann, who was studying with her father, Friedrich Wieck tried hard to stop them from getting married. It took years -- and a court battle -- before Robert and Clara could finally get married. But Clara and Robert Schumann became one of the greatest musical partnerships of all time. She gave the first performance of many of his pieces, including his piano concerto and was a tremendous influence on his music. She also premiered works by Chopin and Brahms. Even though she gave birth to eight children, and had great family responsibilities, Robert encouraged her compose. When Robert got sick, and after his early death, Clara supported her family by giving concerts and teaching. She continued to perform into her 70's.

Listen to a special show about Clara Schumann.

 


Caroline Shaw

August 01, 1982 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Caroline Shaw is a vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer who is known for being the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. She frequently receives commissions from the world's greatest musicians and ensembles including the Dover Quartet, Anne Sofie von Otter, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

 


Ethel Smyth

April 23, 1858 - May 08, 1944

Romantic Period

Born in England

Ethel Smyth was a respected English composer of her time and known for her chamber music, orchestral works, vocal scores, and opera.

Ethel was born into a successful family who didn't understand why she sought to follow her ambitions to become a composer. At that time, it was uncommon for women to pursue a career in this way. She studied for a period at the Leipzig Conservatory and then left to study privately. Her work met the approval of big-name composers of her time including Brahms, Clara Schumann, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky. An advocate for women's rights, Ethel sometimes would allow her political views to seep into her work. She lost her hearing later in life, and at that point devoted herself to writing prose.

 


Barbara Strozzi

August 06, 1619 - November 11, 1677

Baroque Period

Born in Italy

Barbara Strozzi was the adopted daughter of the librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi. She grew up surrounded by intellectuals in Giulio's Venetian group, the Academy of the Unknowns. Once he discovered that Barbara exhibited musical talent, he formed a subset of the group, the Academy of the Likeminded, in which he allowed Barbara to preside over, singing and suggesting topics for group discussion. 

Barbara was declared a virtuoso by 15, and Giulio did his best to publicize her throughout his circles in Venice and do everything he could to cultivate her talent. He even wrote many texts himself, and then worked to get the accompanying music dedicated to her. He also arranged for her to study with Francesco Cavalli. In addition to being a celebrated singer, Barbara Strozzi also composed. Some scholars even say she may have even originated the cantata form in Italy!

 


Ellen Taafe Zwilich

April 30, 1939 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Ellen Taafe Zwilich was the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music. She has written many impressive works, commissioned and performed by the world's top ensembles. She received her education from Juilliard and currently holds a professorship at Florida State University.

 


Germaine Tailleferre

April 19, 1892 - November 07, 1983

Modern Period

Born in France

Germaine Tailleferre was born in Paris and had early success as a pianist. When she was 12, she started studying at the Paris Conservatory to study, where she won many prizes. Erik Satie was so impressed with one of her piano compositions that he called her his “musical daughter,” and promoted her career. She went on to become the only female member of “Les Six,” a group of prominent French composers. She composed concertos, sonatas,operas, ballets, and film music.

Although most of her acclaim occurred early in her career, Tailleferre composed and taught throughout her life. She was especially devoted to children and their music.

 


Anna Thorvaldsdottir

July 11, 1977 -

Modern Period

Born in Iceland

Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir is a modern-day composer whose music is frequently performed internationally. In her online biography, Anna's style is described to ''portray a flowing world of sounds with enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.''

 


Joan Tower

September 06, 1938 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Joan Tower is an American composer, pianist and conductor. She was born in New Rochelle, New York, but spent her childhood in South America where she fell in love with rhythm and percussion instruments. Tower has never written for voices, just instruments, and many of her compositions were created with particular performers in mind. She has won many awards and commissions, served as composer-in-residence with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and taught at Bard College.

 


Joan Trimble

June 18, 1915 - August 06, 2000

Modern Period

Born in Ireland

Joan Trimble was born in Enniskillen, Ireland. As a student at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, she was awarded scholarships in piano, violin and composition. She then studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music in London. Joan and her sister Valerie toured as a two-piano duo.

 


Maria Theresa von Paradis

May 15, 1759 - February 01, 1824

Classical Period

Born in Austria

Maria Theresa von Paradis was a pianist, singer, and composer. It was uncommon for a woman to succeed in music during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries but she overcame that obstacle, as well as the blindness that she developed as a child. She studied with several prominent musicians of the day including Antonio Salieri. Paradis is also known for founding a school for the blind and a music school for girls.

 


Gwyneth Walker

March 22, 1947 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

American composer Gwyneth Walker is known for collaborating with musicians and combining music with readings, acting, and movement.

A proud resident of New England, Walker was born in Connecticut, lived on a dairy farm in Vermont for almost 30 years, and now divides her time between the two states. She received the 2000 ''Lifetime Achievement Award'' from the Vermont Arts Council and 2018 2018 "Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award" from Choral Arts New England.

Widely performed throughout the United States, Walker's compositions include works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, chorus, and solo voice.

 


Julia Wolfe

December 18, 1958 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Julia Wolfe's music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. She draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.

In addition to receiving the 2014 Pulitzer Prize (for her oratorio Anthracite Fields), Wolfe was a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, received the 2015 Herb Alpert Award in Music, and was named Musical America's 2019 Composer of the Year. She is co-founder/co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can, and she is Artistic Director of NYU Steinhardt Music Composition.

 


 

Women Composers

Women Composers

Learn more about Women's History Month and the influence of women in music as composers, conductors, performers and more!

Eleanor Alberga

September 30, 1949 -

Modern Period

Born in Jamaica

Eleanor Alberga was born in Kingston, Jamaica. When she was 5 year old she decided she wanted to become a concert pianist and by the age of 10 was composing music for the piano. After studying at the Jamaica School of Music, Alberga received a scholarship that she used to attend the Royal Academy of Music in London, England. She fulfilled her dream to be a concert pianist and also was pianist for The London Contemporary Dance Company. She has been composing full time since 2001 and writes music for dance, as well as orchestra, choral and chamber music, and solo instruments. Alberga set Roald Dahl's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to music for symphony orchestra and narrators. She founded the Arcadia Music Festival with her husband, violinist Thomas Bowes; and opened the famous Last Night of the BBC Proms with Arise Athena!, a piece for orchestra and choir.

 


Amanda Ira Aldridge

- March 09, 1956

Modern Period

Born in England

Amanda Ira Aldridge was a British opera singer and composer. Her father was Ira Frederick Aldridge, an African American Shakespearean actor. She won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London and worked as a concert singer, piano accompanist and voice teacher. Aldridge became famous singing throughout Europe until laryngitis ended her career. She then turned her attention to composing, especially art songs using the poetry of African American poets for lyrics, and teaching. Her students included famous African-American concert singers and composers Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Lawrence Benjamin Brown and Roland Hayes.

 


Lera Auerbach

October 21, 1973 -

Modern Period

Born in Russia

Lera Auerbach is a Soviet-Russian born American pianist and composer whose works are frequently commissioned by a variety of artists and ensembles including Gidon Kremer, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Danish Ballet.

 


Amy Beach

September 05, 1867 - December 27, 1944

Late Romantic Period

Born in USA

Amy Beach was the first American woman to find success as a composer. She was born Amy Cheney in New Hampshire, and later moved to Boston, where she became well known as a pianist and composer. Amy could play by ear any music she heard, and at the age of four, she composed her first piano pieces in her head. Her mother actually taught her to play the piano when she was six, and at seven she gave her first public performance.

After her marriage to Dr. Henry Beach, she turned her focus to composing, and only gave recitals once a year. Beach was first known for her art songs, but then received national and international attention for her larger works, including a symphony, violin sonata and piano quintet. Many of her works have returned to the concert stage, and hundreds have been recorded.

 


Hildegard von Bingen

January 01, 1098 - September 17, 1179

Early Music Period

Born in Germany

Hildegard von Bingen (Hildegard of Bingen) was a German nun who established her own convent, and was famous for her prophecies and miracles. In addition to writing poetry, she wrote books about religion and medicine - and she composed music. Only 77 songs of hers remain after all these years.

 


Margaret Bonds

March 03, 1913 - April 26, 1972

Modern Period

Born in United States

Margaret Bonds was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a doctor and her mother was an organist and Margaret's first music teacher. She was 5 years old when she wrote her first music composition. In high school she studied with Florence Price and William Levi Dawson. Bonds was one of the first African American composers and performers to gain recognition in the United States and is remembered for her popular arrangements of spirituals, as well as her collaboration with Langston Hughes. She also wrote solo songs, classical instrumental works, and film music. She was the first African American soloist to appear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Florence Price's Concerto in F Major for piano and orchestra (the first orchestral work by an African American woman the orchestra had ever performed.)

 


Nadia Boulanger

September 16, 1887 - October 22, 1979

Modern Period

Born in France

Nadia Boulanger is most known as a teacher, although she also was a successful composer and conductor. She was one of the founding members of the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau and also taught at the Paris Conservatory. She had a heavy influence on twentieth-century music because she taught many of its leading composers including Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, and Astor Piazzolla.

 


Francesca Caccini

September 18, 1587 - 1640

Baroque Period

Born in Italy

Singer, composer, and teacher, Francesca Caccini came from a musical family. She was  the daughter of famous composer Giulio Caccini and made her debut singing her father's music at the wedding of Marie de' Medici and Henry IV. Henry IV was so impressed by her talent that he requested she join his court as a musician. Her father claimed that she was not granted permission from her current family of service, the Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici of Tuscany. Some scholars, however, believe Giulio made a false claim, not wanting to lose control over his daughter.

In 1607, when Caccini was just 20, she was appointed to sing and compose for the court of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany by the Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine, who controlled the court at the time. The fact that the court was controlled by a woman likely helped Caccini's career to blossom, giving her more opportunities than she may have experienced otherwise.

Caccini's talent was respected and she worked hard to establish her career - a difficult task for a woman in that era. That being said, she still held the status of a servant in the court. Sadly, many of her works were lost following her lifetime.

 


Mathilde Casazola

February 19, 1942 -

Modern Period

Born in Bolivia

Poet and songwriter Matilde Casazala was born to a mother who was also a poet and composer and a father who was a language teacher. She began writing poetry at age 8 and would write and recite poetry with her sister, Gabriela. As a teenager, she began playing guitar and would study with guitarist Pedro García Ripoll. Along with her books of poetry (the first one published in 1967), Casazala has released several recordings of her works, and many Bolivian artists have interpreted her writings.

When asked about her poems and songs, she has said, ''My poetic works have often come to me in the darkness of sleepless nights…The majority of these melodies come with a poetic idea, too, so trying to decipher them and put them on paper is an interesting adventure.''

 


Cecile Chaminade

August 08, 1857 - April 13, 1944

Late Romantic Period

Born in France

Cecile Chaminade received her first music lessons from her mother, who was a pianist and singer. When Cecile wanted to study at the Paris Conservatory, her father wouldn't let her, so she wound up being taught privately by Conservatory professors. She especially focused on composing and her works were well received. She promoted sales of her music through concert tours and performed regularly in England, often as a guest of Queen Victoria.

She also became popular in the United States, where she performed in 12 cities in 1908. Considering the difficulties she faced as a woman composer, the large number of her compositions - almost 200 piano works and 125 songs - is worthy of note.

 


Chen Yi

April 04, 1953 -

Modern Period

Born in China

Violinist and composer Chen Yi was the first Chinese woman to receive a Master of Arts (M.A.) in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Chen was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her composition Si Ji (Four Seasons), and has received awards from the Koussevistky Music Foundation[1] and American Academy of Arts and Letters (Lieberson Award),[2] as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.[3] In 2010, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School [4] and in 2012, she was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association.

 


Rebecca Clarke

August 27, 1886 - October 13, 1979

Modern Period

Born in England

Rebecca Clarke was an English composer and performer who lived during the early twentieth century. She began her music studies early, being forced along with her siblings to perform on demand for their father. She received her first formal education from the Royal Academy of Music, but her father forced her to withdraw after he received word that one of her teachers proposed marriage.

After withdrawing from the Royal Academy of Music, Rebecca went on to become Charles Stanford's first female student at the Royal College of Music. He encouraged her to switch her instrument from violin to viola, with which she would later tour internationally.

Though Rebecca was thrown out of her home in her twenties, she did not despair. Instead, she used the opportunity to focus more on her musical studies and performance schedule. Some of her notable accomplishments include becoming the first female to play with the Queen's Hall Orchestra as well as founding her own female ensemble - the English Ensemble piano quartet.

 


Reena Esmail

February 11, 1983 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, to bring communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail holds degrees from The Juilliard School (BM'05) and the Yale School of Music (MM'11, MMA'14, DMA'18). Esmail's work has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Richmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle, Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Choir, the Elora Festival, Juilliard 415 and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Amherst College Choir and Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Conspirare. In addition, Esmail is Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting musical traditions of India and the West.

 


Louise Farrenc

May 31, 1804 - September 15, 1875

Romantic Period

Born in France

Louise Farrenc was a pianist, teacher, and composer. She taught piano at the Paris Conservatory for 30 years and was also considered to be one of the greatest female composers of the nineteenth century. She wrote music for the piano as well as for chamber groups and orchestra. She was encouraged to pursue music studies by her husband, Aristide Farrenc, who owned a publishing house that published Louise's music.

 


Gabriela Lena Frank

September 26, 1972 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Gabriela Lena Frank is a concert pianist and award-winning composer who has written works for major artists including Yo-Yo Ma, as well as some of the world's best chamber groups and orchestras. Her mother was from Peruvian/Chinese descent and her father from Lithuanian/Jewish descent. This multi-cultural heritage has influenced many of her compositions. She also finds inspiration in the works of Bela Bartok and Alberto Ginastera, as well as Latin-American folklore.

 


Chiquinha Gonzaga

- February 28, 1935

Modern Period

Born in Brazil

Chiquinha Gonzaga was a composer, pianist and the first woman conductor in Brazil. Chiquinha's mother was the daughter of a slave and her father was a white man from a noble family who defied that family to marry her. As part of a military family, Gonzaga was well educated, learning to read and write, do math and play the piano. She composed her first piece of music when she was 11. Music was Gonzaga's passion. Her family arranged for her to be married to naval officer. But when he disapproved of her music, Chiquinha chose music over him causing a scandal. She then worked as a piano teacher and performer to support her children. Welcomed by the artistic community, Gonzaga became successful as a composer and one of the first pianists of the Brazilian ''choro'' style of jaunty, fast music. Gonzaga's music included elements from Brazilian culture and was known to mix Portuguese melodies with African traditional beats.

 


Joy Harjo

May 09, 1951 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a three-time U.S. Poet Laureate who has published 14 books of poetry, several plays and children's books. She is also a musician who has written, performed, and released five albums of her original music. She has taught poetry and serves as the director of For Girls Becoming, an art mentorship program for young Mvskoke women.

 


Jennifer Higdon

December 31, 1962 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Jennifer Higdon was born in Brooklyn, New York. She originally studied flute at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, but then went to the University of Pennsylvania for degrees in composition. She has studied composition with George Crumb and Ned Rorem, and conducting with Robert Spano. Now, she teaches composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her works have been recorded on over two-dozen CDs. In 2004, her CD Concerto for Orchestra / City Scape, recorded by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, won a Grammy Award. Her composition, blue cathedral is one of the most performed orchestra works by a living composer.

 


Nora Douglas Holt

1885 - January 25, 1974

Modern Period

Born in United States

Born Lena Douglas in Kansas City, Nora Douglas Holt achieved many firsts in her life. She was the first African American woman to earn a Masters' Degree in music. She was the first African American member of the Music Critics Circle of New York and she co-founded the National Association of Negro Musicians.

Lena studied piano as a child and grew up around Western University of Quindaro and Wyandotte County, the first African American school west of the Mississippi River. Her parents were closely associated with the school and when her father wrote the words to the school song, Lena wrote the music – at age 12. She studied composition, musicology and music criticism there and graduated as Class Valedictorian.

She moved to Chicago where she earned her Masters' Degree and worked as a music critic while also composing and performing. She changed her name to Nora Holt when she married her fourth husband. After he died, Holt moved to New York City and played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Only 2 of her more than 200 compositions now exist because they were stolen from storage while she traveled. In the 1950s and 1960s, she hosted the radio show, Concert Showcase.

 


Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre

March 17, 1665 - June 27, 1729

Baroque Period

Born in France

Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre was one of the earliest-known female composers who lived and worked during the Baroque era. She was born into a musical family of organists and even later married an organist! She herself was a prodigy, first performing for King Louis XIV at age five. She was the first woman in France to write an opera and was well known for her improvisations and writing works for the keyboard, chamber music, and vocal music.

After the loss of both her husband and son, she retreated from the public eye and focused more on in-home concerts and composition.

 


Eunice Katunda

March 14, 1915 - August 03, 1990

Modern Period

Born in Brazil

Eunice Katunda was born in Rio de Janeiro and began studying piano early in her life, then moved on to studying composition. In her late 20's, she worked as a concert pianist and was part of the Music Viva ensemble that one of her composition teachers, Hans-Joachim Koellreuter, founded. They then went to Paris to study conducting and several years later, she studied Brazilian folk music. She was a prolific composer, writing pieces for large and small orchestras, choruses, and piano, and taught musicology and composition.

 


Libby Larsen

December 24, 1950 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

American composer Libby Larsen was born in Delaware, but now lives in Minnesota. She has written songs, chamber music, symphonies, and operas for both children and grown-ups. She is a strong advocate for music education and for women in music. In 1973, she founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now called the American Composers Forum, to link composers to communities and develop more opportunities for new music. She has received many awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a 1994 Grammy Award for the recording that includes her song cycle Sonnets from the Portuguese.

 


Tania Leon

May 14, 1943 -

Modern Period

Born in Cuba

Cuban-born composer and conductor Tania Leon has won numerous awards for her work. She has received commissions from the world's most prestigious ensembles including the LA Master Chorale, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She is the founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the founder and artistic director of Composers Now, a non-profit in New York City that serves to empower living composers. She also has served as the U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. She currently works as a professor at Brooklyn College and at the Graduate Center of CUNY.

 


Lili'uokalani

September 02, 1838 - November 11, 1917

Romantic Period

Born in USA

Lili'uokalani was the last monarch of Hawaii before the island became a territory, and later a state of the United States of America. She was known for writing songs in her spare time and composed 160 during her lifetime.

 


Marianna Martines

May 04, 1744 - December 13, 1812

Classical Period

Born in Austria

Marianna Martines began her studies in music at a young age, learning from several important names in music history including Franz Joseph Haydn. She studied voice, piano, and composition, and write her first piece of music when she was just twelve years old. Marianna was elected to the Musical Academy of Bologna and also founded a singing school. She was known for holding weekly musical soirees, or parties, in her home that attracted many well-known individuals in Vienna at the time.

 


Missy Mazzoli

October 27, 1980 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Missy Mazzoli is a successful composer whose music has been performed by many major artists including the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Emanuel Ax, the New York City Opera, the LA Philharmonic, and many more. She recently founded Luna Lab, a mentorship program for young female composers. Missy is also a performer. She plays piano and often performs with Victoire, a band she founded in 2008 that focuses on performing her works.

 


Fanny Mendelssohn

November 14, 1805 - May 14, 1847

Romantic Period

Born in Germany

Fanny Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, Germany, and grew up in Berlin. As a kid, Fanny took music lessons and performed with her younger brother Felix, who also grew up to be a famous musician. They both played the piano and composed. They also liked to put on plays. Their father had no problem with his son being a professional musician, but he told Fanny that there was only one suitable thing for her to become: a housewife. Fanny did get married, to an artist named Wilhelm Hensel, after which she was known as Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel. He encouraged her to compose.

When Fanny and Felix were children, the Mendelssohn family held regular Sunday afternoon concerts in their home. Much of the music Fanny composed was for those performances. Even though she never had the career her brother Felix did, Fanny wrote over 400 pieces of music. She is especially known for her songs and her "Songs Without Words" small pieces for solo piano.

Listen to a special show about women composers including Fanny Mendelssohn.

 


Thea Musgrave

May 27, 1928 -

Modern Period

Born in Scotland

Thea Musgrave was born in Scotland but now lives in the United States. Her music includes everything from huge operas to very small choral pieces. Just like Aaron Copland, she studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger - and later, she studied with Copland as well.

Musgrave is highly regarded as an opera composer and has achieved much success with her works for the stage. She has been also recognized for her work developing and promoting opera in Norfolk, Virginia.

Naomi recently created this profile of Thea Musgrave for NPR's Here & Now progam.

 


Jacqueline Nova

January 06, 1935 - June 13, 1975

Modern Period

Born in Belgium

A founder of electroacoustic music in Colombia, Jacqueline Nova began studying piano at age 7 and was the first woman to earn a degree in composition from the Colombian National Conservatory of Music. Her avant-garde compositions often involved mixing electronic noise, orchestral music, and voices. She also created a sound installation called ''Creation of the Earth'' which explored the difference between noise and sound.

 


Tawnie Olson

November 19, 1974 -

Modern Period

Born in Canada

The music of Canadian composer Tawnie Olson draws inspiration from politics, spirituality, the natural world, and the musicians for whom she composes. Winner of the 2018 Barlow Prize and the 2015 Iron Composer Competition, she has been Composer-in-Residence of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, an American Composers Forum BandQuest Composer-in-Residence at E.C. Adams School in Guilford, Conn., and she received a Connecticut Artist Fellowship. Olson has received commissions from the Canadian Art Song Project, Third Practice/New Music USA, the Canada Council for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College/The Women's Philharmonic, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, Ithaca College, the American Composers Forum, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music's Robert Baker Commissioning Fund, among others. Her music is performed on five continents and can be heard on many recordings.

In a recent American Composers Forum video, Olson shared this advice with students: ''Composing is like anything else—it's like playing your instrument, or cooking, or riding a bike. When you first start, it's hard, and it doesn't always look pretty. But if you keep at it, you'll get better at it… Young composers should just write as much as they can, and then they should make friends with performers. If they already have friends who play music, they should write music for their friends and play together.''

 


Florence Price

April 09, 1887 - June 03, 1953

Modern Period

Born in USA

Florence Price is most known as the first African American woman to have her work performed by a major American orchestra. She studied with George Chadwick at the New England Conservatory and later wrote radio jingles and popular songs in addition to her more serious compositions.

 


Kaija Saariaho

October 14, 1952 -

Modern Period

Born in Finland

Award-winning Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho is known for combining live music with electronics. Her work at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music in Paris has influenced her compositions. Though she is mostly known for her chamber music, she has also written several larger-scale works including opera.

 


Clara Schumann

September 13, 1819 - May 20, 1896

Romantic Period

Born in Germany

Before she was even born, Clara Schumann's father had determined that she would be a star at the keyboard. Her father, Fredrich Wieck, was a piano teacher, and he saw to it that she studied music, performed and composed - all at an early age. Clara toured all over Europe, wowing audiences with her playing, and her compositions.

When Clara fell in love with Robert Schumann, who was studying with her father, Friedrich Wieck tried hard to stop them from getting married. It took years -- and a court battle -- before Robert and Clara could finally get married. But Clara and Robert Schumann became one of the greatest musical partnerships of all time. She gave the first performance of many of his pieces, including his piano concerto and was a tremendous influence on his music. She also premiered works by Chopin and Brahms. Even though she gave birth to eight children, and had great family responsibilities, Robert encouraged her compose. When Robert got sick, and after his early death, Clara supported her family by giving concerts and teaching. She continued to perform into her 70's.

Listen to a special show about Clara Schumann.

 


Caroline Shaw

August 01, 1982 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Caroline Shaw is a vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer who is known for being the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. She frequently receives commissions from the world's greatest musicians and ensembles including the Dover Quartet, Anne Sofie von Otter, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

 


Ethel Smyth

April 23, 1858 - May 08, 1944

Romantic Period

Born in England

Ethel Smyth was a respected English composer of her time and known for her chamber music, orchestral works, vocal scores, and opera.

Ethel was born into a successful family who didn't understand why she sought to follow her ambitions to become a composer. At that time, it was uncommon for women to pursue a career in this way. She studied for a period at the Leipzig Conservatory and then left to study privately. Her work met the approval of big-name composers of her time including Brahms, Clara Schumann, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky. An advocate for women's rights, Ethel sometimes would allow her political views to seep into her work. She lost her hearing later in life, and at that point devoted herself to writing prose.

 


Barbara Strozzi

August 06, 1619 - November 11, 1677

Baroque Period

Born in Italy

Barbara Strozzi was the adopted daughter of the librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi. She grew up surrounded by intellectuals in Giulio's Venetian group, the Academy of the Unknowns. Once he discovered that Barbara exhibited musical talent, he formed a subset of the group, the Academy of the Likeminded, in which he allowed Barbara to preside over, singing and suggesting topics for group discussion. 

Barbara was declared a virtuoso by 15, and Giulio did his best to publicize her throughout his circles in Venice and do everything he could to cultivate her talent. He even wrote many texts himself, and then worked to get the accompanying music dedicated to her. He also arranged for her to study with Francesco Cavalli. In addition to being a celebrated singer, Barbara Strozzi also composed. Some scholars even say she may have even originated the cantata form in Italy!

 


Ellen Taafe Zwilich

April 30, 1939 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Ellen Taafe Zwilich was the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music. She has written many impressive works, commissioned and performed by the world's top ensembles. She received her education from Juilliard and currently holds a professorship at Florida State University.

 


Germaine Tailleferre

April 19, 1892 - November 07, 1983

Modern Period

Born in France

Germaine Tailleferre was born in Paris and had early success as a pianist. When she was 12, she started studying at the Paris Conservatory to study, where she won many prizes. Erik Satie was so impressed with one of her piano compositions that he called her his “musical daughter,” and promoted her career. She went on to become the only female member of “Les Six,” a group of prominent French composers. She composed concertos, sonatas,operas, ballets, and film music.

Although most of her acclaim occurred early in her career, Tailleferre composed and taught throughout her life. She was especially devoted to children and their music.

 


Anna Thorvaldsdottir

July 11, 1977 -

Modern Period

Born in Iceland

Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir is a modern-day composer whose music is frequently performed internationally. In her online biography, Anna's style is described to ''portray a flowing world of sounds with enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.''

 


Joan Tower

September 06, 1938 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Joan Tower is an American composer, pianist and conductor. She was born in New Rochelle, New York, but spent her childhood in South America where she fell in love with rhythm and percussion instruments. Tower has never written for voices, just instruments, and many of her compositions were created with particular performers in mind. She has won many awards and commissions, served as composer-in-residence with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and taught at Bard College.

 


Joan Trimble

June 18, 1915 - August 06, 2000

Modern Period

Born in Ireland

Joan Trimble was born in Enniskillen, Ireland. As a student at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, she was awarded scholarships in piano, violin and composition. She then studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music in London. Joan and her sister Valerie toured as a two-piano duo.

 


Maria Theresa von Paradis

May 15, 1759 - February 01, 1824

Classical Period

Born in Austria

Maria Theresa von Paradis was a pianist, singer, and composer. It was uncommon for a woman to succeed in music during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries but she overcame that obstacle, as well as the blindness that she developed as a child. She studied with several prominent musicians of the day including Antonio Salieri. Paradis is also known for founding a school for the blind and a music school for girls.

 


Gwyneth Walker

March 22, 1947 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

American composer Gwyneth Walker is known for collaborating with musicians and combining music with readings, acting, and movement.

A proud resident of New England, Walker was born in Connecticut, lived on a dairy farm in Vermont for almost 30 years, and now divides her time between the two states. She received the 2000 ''Lifetime Achievement Award'' from the Vermont Arts Council and 2018 2018 "Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award" from Choral Arts New England.

Widely performed throughout the United States, Walker's compositions include works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, chorus, and solo voice.

 


Julia Wolfe

December 18, 1958 -

Modern Period

Born in USA

Julia Wolfe's music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. She draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.

In addition to receiving the 2014 Pulitzer Prize (for her oratorio Anthracite Fields), Wolfe was a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, received the 2015 Herb Alpert Award in Music, and was named Musical America's 2019 Composer of the Year. She is co-founder/co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can, and she is Artistic Director of NYU Steinhardt Music Composition.

 


 

 

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