Women’s History Month at The Classical Station
This March, The Classical Station celebrates Women’s History Month. Long overshadowed by their male counterparts, women composers are receiving the recognition they deserve. Here are just a few of the many notable female musicians we will be highlighting this month on our broadcasts.
Born into a musical family, Élisabeth Claude Jacquet de La Guerre debuted as a musician in Louis XIV’s court and went on to publish multiple books of harpsichord music. Her opera, Cephalus and Procris, was the first French opera composed by a woman. It reached the stage of the Paris Opera in 1694. Unfortunately, much of her music was lost over time, but we can still appreciate the elegant beauty of her cantatas, sonatas, and harpsichord suites.
Louise Farrenc composed a multitude of symphonies and chamber works, but she is most known for her piano works. She was so well-received as a concert pianist that she gained a position at the Paris Conservatory as Professor of Piano. While working there, she fought against the notion that she should be paid less than her male contemporaries; she only received equal pay after her Nonet in 1849 had a successful premiere.
Much like Farrenc, Cécile Chaminade became successful because of her elegant piano works, and she was known for only performing her own compositions at her public concerts. In 1913, she became a member of France’s highest-ranking merit order, the Order of the Legion of Honor, the first female composer to do so.
Ethel Smyth, a suffragette, was a talented composer and writer in the early twentieth century. Though many of her compositions have fallen into obscurity, her opera, “Der Wald”, was the only opera written by a woman to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera until 2016. Ethel Smyth was often accused of being either too masculine for a woman or too feminine for a serious composer, but in recent years her work as a composer and a women’s rights activist has found the acclaim it deserves.
Listen to The Classical Station throughout the month of March as we celebrate Women’s History Month with female composers and musicians. Tune in to 89.7 FM, stream online on TheClassicalStation.org, or download our app.