July 16-22. Female Composers born this week: Eve Beglarian, Pauline Viardot, Elisabeth Meyer, Marie de France, Marianna Auenbrugger.

It’s funny, I was talking to a friend today, telling her about how I’ve been featuring female composers, and she said, well there’s Pauline Viardot, who’s birthday is today.” The biography of Pauline Viardot (18 July 1821 – 18 May 1910) reads like a who’s who of 19th century composers and writers. She wanted to become a concert pianist, but her mother forced her to become a singer. Her looks and voice caught the attention of many writers and composers, many of whom fell in love with her or created works of art based on her life or to feature her voice. For example, George Sand’s, based her novel,
Consuelo, on Viardot. Gounod wrote wrote his opera Sapho, to feature her, as did Meyerbeer and Saint-Saëns

Here, Cecilia Bartoli sings Viardot’s Hai luli

Another nice piece is her Romance for Violin

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July 22, birthday of Eve Beglarian: “In and Out of the Game”

Bingo! Here’s a wonderful piece by Eve Beglarian, who in 2009, started on a Kayak trip down the Mississippi river, saying:

“Part of it was a response to the economic free fall. Part of it was when Obama got elected, I thought, ‘This is my country, this really is my country, and I need to know what my country is.’” (NY Times 2009)

Her page on Wikipedia, Eve Beglarian (b. 1958), doesn’t say much about her education or influences, except to classify it as post-minimalist. Actually, neither does her blog. The following piece, was performed live on “Studio 360.” It’s scored for 4 trombones and if you hate brass music, please listen to this, it will change your mind. You can buy other tracks from the River Project here.

“In and Out of the Game”

July 21, There are over 6000 documented women composers but it’s hard to find them by their birthdate

Yesterday I found this web portal (belonging to the Kapralova Society) which lists links to databases of female composers.  It says there are over 6000.  Wikipedia has a lot listed here, but they are only categorized by their birth year, and they are missing many that Kapralova has catalogued.  You have to click on each name to find out the birthdate, if known.

Do any of you, dear readers, know a source I could use?  If not, we could try to build one.

Until that happens, I’m going to just choose women composers from these lists and see if I can find a youtube video of any of their recorded music.

Today, it’s Makiko Kinoshita (b. 1956), and all that Wiki says about her is she was born in Tokyo, where she studied, and that she won some awards. This is a link from Wikipedia to her website, but I couldn’t get it to load.

Here is her “Fantasie für Orchester; Fantasia for Orchestra” (1982)

July 20, Marie de France: Lai du Chèvrefeuille dans Tristan

Wikipedia does not list the date of Marie de France’s birth, but since I’m trying to find the work of and feature female composers, I thought I’d dedicate this post to her.

Marie de France (1175?–1225?) was a well known poet of her time, very well read and translated Aesop’s fables into Anglo-Norman. She is associated sometimes with the court of the French King Henry II.

“Lai du Chèvrefeuille dans Tristan et Iseult” is what is known as a Breton lai, that is a medieval poem about love and chivalry. Chèvrefeuille means honeysuckle in French and in the story, the lovers Tristan and Iseult are compared to the honeysuckle vine and hazelnut bush which have a symbiotic relationship and grow so intertwined that one cannot live if the other dies.

Lai du Chèvrefeuille dans Tristan et Iseult

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