April 19, Birthday of Germaine Tailleferre (1892 – 1983)

If the name, Germaine Tailleferre, sounds familiar, it’s because she was hailed by Jean Cocteau as being one of “Les Six” (the six), all 20th century composers active in Paris between the two World Wars. The others were:  Georges Auric (1899–1983), Louis Durey (1888–1979), Arthur Honegger (1892–1955), Darius Milhaud(1892–1974), and  Francis Poulenc (1899–1963).  

She was born Germaine Taillefesse (ass cutter) but changed her name to Tailleferre (iron cutter) because her father refused to pay for her studies at the Paris Conservatory where she won prizes for Solfège and later piano playing. There she met most of the composers in The Six and palled around with them and other painters, writers, and poets in Montmartre and Montparnasse between the wars.

The Six didn’t collaborate much and didn’t collaborate much, nor did they copy each other or try to outdo one another like Picasso–a contemporary–did with Matisse or Braque. She was friends with and encouraged and probably influenced most by Ravel, which I hear a lot of in her music.

She married an American, cartoonist Ralph Barton, and moved to Manhattan in 1925. The marriage ended after they returned to France and Barton, a manic-depressive, committed suicide.

In 1942, she fled France, first to Spain, then Portugal, and finally Philadelphia. Along the way, she had to abandon unpublished manuscripts of a substantial number compositions. After the war, she returned to France where she flourished composing up to her death.

Youtube has about 50 pieces of her music. You really should poke around and listen.

Concertino pour harpe et piano (1927)
Pastorale (1919)
Rêverie (1964)
Sonata per 2 pianoforti (1974)
Image (1918)
Partita Pour Piano (1957)
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April 16, Birthday of Erika Radermacher (b. 1936)

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any Swiss composers. Artists of course include Paul Klee, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Tinguely, and HR Giger. A quick search in google found a number of male composers, including Arthur Honegger (whose work Pacific 231 I have featured), but no women.


I did find a reference in “Women Opera Composers: Biographies from the 1500s to the 21st Century,” and a web page dedicated to contemporary Swiss music.
Youtube only has one video of her compositions and four of her performances as a pianist. The video on the left is of her performing a work by Clara Schumann with a trio, and her composition starts around 29 minutes in.
Wikipedia tells us she also studied and performed as a soprano and now teaches music theory and composition in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Problem (1984) Trio for Piano, Cello, and Violin
Starts at 28:48
As a Performer
Flocking by James Tenny (1993)

April 5, Birthday of Diana Nasution (1958-2013)

Diana Nasution was an Indonesian pop singer. I can’t find much on her except the link to her obituary in the Jakarta Post. She was the mother of Marcello ‘€œEllo’€ Tahitoe and wife of musician Minggus Tahitoe. There is a wikipedia entry for Nasution, but it’s in Bahasa Indonesia, which I cannot read. Anyone want to take a stab at translating it for me? A to Z Challenge
BENCI TAPI RINDU
Tembang Kenangan (Full Album)

April 4, Birthday of Chen Yi (b. 1953)

Chen Yi, was a gifted child prodigy, playing both piano and violin. However, when the Cultural Revolution occurred in 1966, education stopped, her house was raided, all the instruments “liberated,”and she was packed off to the countryside to labor as a peasant. There she was influenced by Chinese folk music, and after returning to Beijing when the cultural revolution ended, she became the first woman in China to earn a Master of Art in Composition. She and her husband now live and teach at the University of Missouri-Kansas-City. I included two versions of Spring Dreams, one a studio recording and another live version, which I think is amazing. A to Z Challenge
“Ning” for violin, cello and pipa
As In A Dream (如梦令)
Spring Dreams
Spring Dreams (Live performance by Chanticleer)

April 3, Birthday of Elisabetta Brusa (b.1954)

Elisabetta BrusaIs an Italian composer, who as a child wrote over 30 pieces for piano before entering the Music Conservatory in Milan. Starting in her twenties, she travelled to London where she was tutored by Peter Maxwell Davies for many years. She received a Fulbright and taught at Tanglewood, where she also studied under Hans Werner Henze. This is how Wikipedia describes her work. If someone can explain it to us, I’d be very grateful: Neo-Tonality and in particular to Neo-Romanticism, but in the original sense of the word, which is nowadays often confusedly assimilated to other ones,” and her harmony as “essentially pandiatonic with panchromatic moments.” A to Z Challenge
“Belsize” String Quartet, Op.1
Sonata per pianoforte, Op. 6
Simply Largo, for String Orchestra
Marche Funèbre, per Pianoforte (2001)

April 1, Birthday of Alberta Hunter (1895-1984)

Alberta Hunter was born in Memphis, Tennessee to a maid who worked in a bordello. There she began her career singing in men’s club. When her mother married in 1906, she decamped and moved to Chicago, where she heard she could make it as a singer. She didn’t at first, but then started gigging in bordellos, became well known, and eventually performed with King Oliver. In the 20s and 30s, her career flourished both as a singer and a songwriter. Hunter was married once, shortly, divorced, and in 1927 sailed to Europe with her partner, Lottie Taylor, with whom she lived until Taylor died. In 1957, Hunter’s mother died, which she said took the fun out of performing, so she claimed she was younger, forged a high school diploma, and entered nursing school. She remained a nurse until 1977, though she did start recording in 1971. A to Z Challenge
Downhearted Blues (1939)
Downhearted Blues (1977)
Fats Waller & Alberta Hunter Beale Street Blues (1927)
Someday Sweetheart

March 25, Bonnie Guitar (b. 1923)

Sorry for not posting for a while. I’ve been to seven countries since January 1 to deliver anti-harassment training. Back home now.

Since July 2016, I have been concentrating solely on female composers.  You can read about that in my post from July 19.  If I can’t find one born on the calendar day, I may not post.  On with today’s composer.

Bonnie Buckingham started performing guitar at the age of 16 and was given the name “Bonnie Guitar.”  She is one of the first female country western singers to have a cross-over pop song, “Dark Moon.”    Here’s the Wikipedia entry for her. After moving to LA with her husband (and guitar teacher) Paul Tutmarc, she became a successful session musician, eventually backing such acts as Jim Reeves and Ned Miller. Miller wrote the music to “Dark Moon” and she offered to record it giving up her royalties to the song for the opportunity to do so. The song became a hit. She followed up with a number of others which did not rise as high and she eventually formed her own record label and produced such acts as “The Ventures.”

Mr. Fire Eyes (1957)
Dark Moon (1957)
I really don’t Want to Know
Performing at the age of 90

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