March is Women’s History Month in the United States and the UK. While there has certainly been an increase in programming in schools and community events to celebrate the lives and work of historical and contemporary women, those women who identify themselves as musicians and composers continue to fight for a place on the list. Though there may be a few concerts here and there dedicated to women’s role in music throughout the month of March, the works heard are likely written by a woman who is related, either by blood or marriage, to another famous composer. (Think Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.) Though there are certainly exceptions to the rule – WCPE, The Classical Station, is featuring numerous compositions by women this month, and the Smithsonian, which always takes an active role in recognizing Women’s History Month, features women’s role in music in their Folkways series.
Though Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy celebrates women’s history every month, I would like to use this March to feature the lives and work of historic women who have made a significant impact in the music community, but who are less likely to be heard on a contemporary concert stage. Check back often to read about the women whose work as a composer, performer, conductor, or patron hasn’t been recognized by the history books.