The weekend will draw attention to music written by female composers throughout history. Join us now for a whistle-stop tour of five major female composers spanning the last two hundred years to highlight some of the wonderful music you might not be familiar with.
Fanny Mendelssohn (1805 – 1847)
Like her younger brother, Fanny Hensel (nee Mendelssohn) wrote many short character pieces for piano as was to become typical of Romanic piano repertoire. She was inventive (her own Lieder ohne Wörte likely pre-date Felix’s) and prolific, with a flowing stream of music from the age of 14 until her early death less than 30 years later. Her inspiration drew from many contemporary sources including Goethe. She wrote in the major compositional forms for chamber including Piano Sonata, Trio, Song, Piano Suite (The impressive Das Jahr) and String Quartet with the notable exception of any large scale Symphonies or Concerti.
Clara Schumann (1819 – 1896)
14 years younger than Fanny Hensel, Clara was raised on a diet of daily one hour music lessons. As a pianist, many of the finest works of the early Romantic era were written for her, and as a composer, she began early with a piano concerto at 14(!) and later concentrated on shorter forms such as her numerous Romances and the wonderful Soirees Musicales, Op 6. Lauretta will play Clara’s “Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann” to open the course. She is probably the most widely known female composer.
Amy Beach (1867 – 1944)
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
A composer between eras, Gubaidulina’s music uses traditional forms (Toccata, Suite, Sonata and Chaconne) but she presents them with a refreshing modern approach. She often writes for unusual instruments or combinations, including saxophone quartet, 12 celli, music with tape and the waterphone. She makes use of new sonorities with occasional extended techniques to a musical, rather than gimmicky, effect. Her most well known work for piano, Musical Toys is a suite of 14 charming pieces imitating at various times a musical sleigh, a mechanical organ, a woodpecker and musicians in the forest. A vast quantity of her music is still unrecorded, but there are several wonderful CDs of her complete piano music available.
Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
Lauretta has been to Jackdaws before, and received this wonderful, warm write up from one participant…
“We were a small group, so we each received a lot of attention. Lauretta was generous, caring and detailed in her teaching, and now that I have has a week to assimilate the work into my practice, I think it has made a genuine difference to my pieces. I think Lauretta managed the different needs and standards of the participants well, giving equal time to each person. The group session on warm up exercises was also very helpful. I understand that this was a new course, so I very much hope that it was a positive experience for Lauretta too! With best wishes, and thanks to Lauretta.”