Women's History Month

Amy Beach - American Composer

Amy Beach - American Composer

We always hear about the “good old-boys” of music.  I decided that we needed to learn more about the women who have contributed to our wonderful field of music.  Some of these names you will already have heard of, but there will be some others that you can learn about what makes them so special.

I have long talked about Clara Schumann, the wife of famous composer Robert.  To her we owe the concept of the solo recital and the concept of memorizing our music.  She always felt that her own compositions were substandard to those of her husband.  In addition to solo piano works, she has written some wonderful chamber music that I have performed in the past. Fanny Mendelssohn was the sister of the famous Felix. This year I am happy to teach a piece by Amy Beach (aka Mrs. H.H.A. Beach -that in itself is a story!)   She was the first successful American female composer.  Challenge:  how many American composers can you name? 

I have recently seen posted two wonderful articles about female pianists – past and present.  Several of these women are absolute power houses.  Alicia de Larrocha was the most petite in stature and hand size, but you would never know by her command of the keyboard sound.   Several of these pianists are favorites in the Portland area and you frequently can hear their performances at Portland Piano International or with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra: Angela Hewitt, Olga Kern, Yuja Wang.

There are two names that I would include on this list that I have had the opportunity to either hear in person or even studied with in a master class:  Ursala Oppens and Valentina Lisitsa.   

What an inspiration these famous women are for those of us studying music.  Their contributions must be acknowledged. 

Students: please let me know that you have read this blog and connected to the links. Tell me something that you learned from this you will be rewarded with a gold (chocolate) coin!

Kathy Charles