Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Composers You Should Know: Peggy Stuart Coolidge

by sarah - July 19th, 2017

This week marks the 104th birthday of American composer and conductor Peggy Stuart Coolidge (1913-1981).

She began her career as a concert pianist, but turned to composition when a student at the New England Conservatory.  Though her early works are for piano, most of her compositions are for orchestra, including many tone poems, works for piano and orchestra, ballets, and incidental music.

Stuart Coolidge was one of the first American women to have an album devoted to her symphonic works, which were internationally recognized during her lifetime.  In fact, many of her works were first premiered in Europe.

An active conductor as well as composer, Stuart Coolidge led an all-woman ensemble in Boston, was pianist and assistant conductor of the Women’s Symphony of Boston.  She also founded the Boston Junior League Orchestra.

Though a prolific, acclaimed, often commissioned, and internationally recognized composer, her symphonic works are rarely performed and few recordings exist, or are readily available.  We were delighted that the Boston Landmarks Orchestra recently performed one of her works, supported by a WPA Performance Grant, and hope to see more of her pieces in concert halls as more ensembles make an effort to include diverse programming.

Her papers and manuscripts are held at Harvard University.

Have a listen to two of her more famous pieces via Spotify below:

Monday Link Round Up: July 17, 2017

by sarah - July 17th, 2017

News to start your week!

In the ongoing discussion about inclusiveness and diversity, Anne Lanzilotti interviews composer and scholar Tara Rodgers about her music and work, including her book, Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound.  The conversation includes the need not only for more representation in concert halls, but also in classroom curriculums.  Read on at NewMusicBox.


Vulture profiles composer, performer, and podcaster Nadia Sirota.  Her podcast, Meet the Composer, includes in depth conversations with living composers, and an opportunities for classical music audiences to engage with music and musicians in a new way.  Read on here.


Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane of BH Media visited the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC to speak with Claire Hendrickson, who is studying trumpet, and how the gender balance in the brass section is changing.  Read more here.


What did we miss?  What are you reading?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Peggy Stuart Coolidge in Boston

by sarah - July 14th, 2017

This coming Wednesday the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will be kicking off the summer concert season at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell.

Their concert on July 19, titled Music for a Summer Evening, will include works by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius, Barber, Verdi – and American composer Peggy Stuart Coolidge.

Stuart Coolidge’s The Blue Planet, for narrator and orchestra, was inspired by a commission from the World Wildlife Fund.  After composing a 3 minute piece to accompany an advertisement, Stuart Coolidge expanded on the work and added narration written by her husband, Joseph R. Coolidge.  The first performance of The Blue Planet was heard at the International Congress of the World Wildlife Fund in Bonn in 1972.  Though the work has been recorded, live performances of the work are (unfortunately) extremely rare.  Those able to attend this week’s performance by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra will no doubt be in for an amazing performance!

Learn more about the concert here or on the Boston Landmarks Orchestra Facebook Page.

Composers You Should Know: Liza Lehmann

by sarah - July 12th, 2017

This week we are remembering the life and work of British composer and soprano Liza Lehmann (1862-1918).  

Born into a privileged family, Lehmann was given the opportunity to study music from a very early age in voice and composition.  Her teachers included Hamish MacCunn and Jenny Lind.  After a decade long concert career Lehmann got married and left her performing career behind, instead focusing on composition.  Her works included art songs, parlor songs, song cycles, and songs for children.  Many of her works remained popular, and continued to be published and recorded even in recent years.

She traveled later in her career, touring the United States in 1910, and championed her own works accompanying them in recital.  Notably, she was the first president of the Society of Women Musicians and became a professor of singing at the Guildhall School of Music, where she also wrote a voice technique book.  

Several works are available in the Public Domain through the Petrucci Music Library – including Nonsense Songs from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and Bird Songs.  

Be sure to read an interview with Liza Lehmann published in The Etude magazine in April of 1910.  It provides excellent insight to her world, and the obstacles she faced as she embarked on a career in composition.  Here is an excerpt:

The idea of my becoming a composer was never even considered. Why? Simply because during my childhood the thought of a woman becoming a composer was not a popular one in England. It never seemed to occur to those who had the guidance of my early education that a woman could ever be taken seriously as a composer. Maud Valèrie White, however, had written some very successful songs, and her career and influence were a source of greatest inspiration to me. When on my marriage I decided to retire from the concert platform, I gave my whole attention to composition, I was determined not to let my physical condition sever me from my musical ambitions, and I also realized that my experience upon the concert platform, which had made me acquainted with many of the great vocal masterpieces, was of much value to me.

Read more in the composer’s own voice in her autobiography, the Life of Liza Lehmann published in 1919 and available in full text online through Archive.org  and the University of Toronto.

Listen in to our Spotify Playlist of Lehmann’s works:

Monday Link Round Up: July 10, 2017

by sarah - July 10th, 2017

News to start your week!

In international news, The Times of India profiles two young women who are making a name for themselves in a particularly male dominated field.  Read more about Feviola Fernandes and Delcy Silveira here.


The Conversation explores the continued inequalities in the field of Jazz.  Though the article focuses primarily on the opportunities available in Australia, there is an (unfortunate) universality to the obstacles women face across musical genres and around the world.  Read on here.


British Lebanese composer Bushra El Turk has written an opera based on the novel Woman at Point Zero.  Learn more about the work, which is currently being workshopped in London, at The National.


Listen in to Kath Fraser’s interview with composer Lisa Bielawa via MixCloud.  The conversation includes Bielawa’s work with the Seattle Chamber Music Society Commissioning Club and her new opera web series, Vireo.  Listen on the website or below:


What did we miss?  What are you reading?  Leave a link and let us know!