Classical music is always seen as a platform of men. It is comparable to other male-dominated areas such as civil justice, technology, banking and so on. If we look back at the great musicians that shaped the world, we think of Mozart, Beethoven, or the Beatles. All of them legendary and influential.. don’t get us wrong.. but all men.
It doesn’t help that for millenniums, women were not seen as fit to compose or conduct classical music. Music was considered divine, and only a man was allowed to exercise the right to lead it. While female members of the royalty did compose poems, and recite choruses and the occasional hymns back in the times, there is no long-standing symphony composed by a woman that still remains in all our hearts.
While those sexist philosophies and perceptions don’t exist today, there is still a sizeable population of aristocrats and classical music lovers that don’t appreciate a woman conducting a symphony orchestra, for example. And we can understand this thinking, but to an extent. Hence we decided to educate the masses and present to you a list of great female musicians, who, when given the chance, created masterpieces.
Francesca Caccini (1587-1640)
Francesca Caccini lived during the glorious age of the Renaissance at the hub of the movement – Florence. She underwent training in music from her father at a very young age and could play the harp, keyboard and the lute. Her pinnacle was “La liberazione di Ruggiero”, a play she composed and performed in front of the Prince of Poland at the time.
Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729)
Elisabeth Jacquet De La Guerre was born in Paris and is an accomplish harpsichord player. She held the privilege of playing in front of and impressing Louis XIV at a very young age. Having brought up in the royal court, she was educated and supervised by influential people. Her ballad composition, Les Jeux à l’honneur de la Victoire, considered to have been lost, is one of the great compositions of her time.
Amy Beach (1867–1944)
Over at the other side of the Atlantic, Amy Beach made a name for herself in the US. Born in New Hampshire, she played the piano and was a self-taught musician. In a career spanning 25 years, she performed in symphonies, concerts, choral and chambers. She even received recognition in Europe despite being an American composer.
These are some of the great women artists that graced classical music. We will cover more artists in future posts, with the idea being to encourage and motivate women around the world to pursue music. It is never wise to keep your talent locked inside.