This book tells the stories of eight women composers, all the way back to the Renaissance Medici court. I had previously only heard of two of them, which is one of the points of the book, and is also sad.
I minored in music in college (something I am using even less today than I am my Zoology major, but I digress). I’d found a lot of new composers I’d never heard of through the courses I took for my minor, but you would definitely get the sense from them that women just didn’t compose up until the Romantic period. Which isn’t at all true, but there were definite barriers to women getting noticed in musical circles, which you can imagine, based on women’s restricted roles in past times.
I think the most disappointing thing I learned is that the marriage of Robert and Clara Schumann was not the romantic musical partnership you get from the quick gloss in a history of music overview course. Not that I should be at all surprised, but it’s a little sad that she was more famous than her husband while alive (and more talented), but she’s mostly remembered in the literature more as his wife, and keeper of his legacy, than as a musician and composer in her own right.
This was a fascinating read – it was nice to see some stories of composers going back further in time than I had knowledge of before, and I do hope this is the start of these (and other) women getting wider exposure.