July 9-15. Female Composers born this week: Catherine Emingerová, Anna Cramer, and Hedwige (Gennaro)-Chrétien

Liza Lehmann (11 July 1862 – 19 September 1918) was an English operatic soprano and composer, known for her vocal compositions.

Bird Songs

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July 3, birthday of Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953)

Ruth Crawford Seeger is a surprise and delight. Originally a pianist, she began studying composing after moving to Chicago from Jacksonville, Florida. In the windy city, she came under the influence of Alexander Scriabin’s music and Theosophy. After marrying Charles Seeger (a musicologist and father of Pete), she moved with him to Washington, DC, where she worked closely with John and Alan Lomax at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress to preserve and teach American folk music. Her later life saw her arranging folk songs. Her work is breathtakingly varied and is a real find.

Sonata for Violin and Piano

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June 14, birthday of Olga Gorelli (1920-2006)

My apologies for the earlier version of this page. Please see the Wikipedia page on Olga Gorelli. I regret I couldn’t find more works by her on line. She was prolific and from this one piece, I’m sure there’s a fascinating body of work.

I Carry Your Heart With Me

June 5, birthday of Laurie Anderson (b. 1947)

When I heard “O Superman” in 1982, I became an instant fan. “Big Science” was like nothing I had ever heard–witty spoken word pieces that commented on absurdism in the US set to haunting and sometimes minimalist inspired music. Next came “Mr. Heartbreak,” which still mesmerizes me. But I stopped there, though I knew she continued to write, tour and perform. When I heard that she had married Lou around 2008, I went, “What?” I thought he was gay. After that, I rarely listened to her.

Then in October of 2013, Lou Reed died, and I thought about her. Having lost both my parents and one brother, when people fall in love and marry and then one dies, it really makes me sad. My father was married to my mom for 67 years and took care of her until she became obstreperous at the age of 92. Even after that, he would sleep with a pair of her pajamas beside him because he missed her so much. In 2015 Laurie released a film called “Heart of a Dog” and Laura and I went to see it. Though Laurie denied it was a tribute to Lou or a way of expressing grief and closing that chapter in her life, it ends with a picture of Lou and their dog, Lulabell, lying together on a bean bag chair. Later I read a biography of Lou, and it painted a picture of an amazingly unlikeable person, a megalomaniac, an alcoholic, & a control freak who could not stand to have anyone in his band outshine him.

Until yesterday, I never read anything about Laurie’s background. NYC in the 1960s and 70s was great place for artists and musicians. Abstract expressionism was dying, being replaced by Pop & Performance Art. Warhol’s Factory became a site for musical and artistic happenings, with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground playing music that would influence the next generation that became Punk rockers ane New Wavers. In the 1970s serious music was moving from twelve-tone and atonal serialism, and complex and hypnotic non western rhythms, the spoken word, and concrete and found sounds became the building blocks of what started out as minimalism but eventually morphed into the neo-romantic & post-modern stuff that’s become part of today’s vernacular.

Maybe it was because John Lennon married the artist Yoko Ono, but somehow, visual and performance artists started becoming musicians and vice versa. Laurie was an art history and then sculpture major and wrote a symphony for automobile horn in 1969. So here’s a set of works stretching back to 1977 (the earliest I could find on Youtube). If you have other recordings of her earlier works or pieces you really like, please feel free to post.

Break it (1977)

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May 26, Maria de Lourdes Martins (1926-2009)

 
Maria de Lourdes Martins gets about two lines in Wikipedia but this biography is more complete. She was quite established as an avante garde composer, working with Stockhausen, but then she went to Munich and studied with Carl Orff and brought his musical teaching method to Portugal. The following pieces are all that I can find of her work on Youtube, but you can definitely hear the influence of Kodaly, with whom she also studied.

Sonorita

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May 5, Birthday of Delia Derbyshire (1937 – 2001)

Delia Derbyshire had quite an amazing life. The daughter of a sheet metal worker from Coventry, she was evacuated during WWII to Lancashire at the age of 3. Very precocious, at the age of 4 she taught others in her class to read and write. At the age of 8, her parent bought her a piano, but she excelled in Maths and got a scholarship to Cambridge to study at a time when only 1 in 10 students there were women. He got her BA in math and music, specializing in medieval music. After graduating, she told career counselors she wanted to work with sound, and they suggested she work with the deaf. She sodded off to Geneva, where she taught piano to the children of the British Consul-General and maths to the children of the South American and Canadian diplomats. After returning to England, she worked first for Decca Records as an assistant sound engineer and then heard about the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, where she learned the art of tape splicing and looping and with the newly invented magnetic tape recorders, she recorded the sound of objects and through manipulation turned them into musique concrète.  She came to fame after composing the opening music to the series Dr. Who in 1963 based on a theme by Ron Grainer.

I wonder where Steven Reich, Philip Glass, the Who, the Talking Heads, and others would have been without her. At the bottom of these videos, there’s a documentary about her called “The Delian Mode.”

First

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April 24, Birthday of Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968)

Roxanna Panufnik lives in London where she is a president of a choral society and has been composer in resident with the London Mozart players.

Zen Love Song

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