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Great composers of classical music: the women who have left their mark on history
How women have defied gender barriers leaving a lasting legacy and influencing the composers of the future
The issue of female representation in classical music is a topic that has been debated for a long time. Many wonder why there aren't great female composers, and the answer isn't simple.

Throughout the history of classical music, the musical profession was not considered socially appropriate for women. Many of them were not allowed to participate musically in churches, and their music was often considered inferior due to gender. This has prevented many from developing their musical talents and being successful as composers.

However, there have been several women composers who have distinguished themselves in different historical periods and who have paved the way for contemporary female composers. As we worked on this list, we realized that we could add many more female composers. However, we are sure that among them you will find new inspirations and maybe even your new favorite composer!

  1. 1 – Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179): a 12th-century German nun, writer, philosopher, mystic and composer. Hildegard was one of the first known composers of Western music and left an indelible mark on sacred music.
  2. 2 – Francesca Caccini (1587-1641): Italian composer, singer and instrumentalist of the seventeenth century. She was the first woman to compose an opera, Ruggiero's Liberation, in 1625.
  3. 3 – Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677): Italian composer of the seventeenth century. Strozzi mainly composed vocal music, including madrigals, arias and cantatas, and achieved great popularity during his lifetime.
  4. 4 – Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847): 19th century German composer and pianist. She was the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn and composed over 400 works, but much of her music was published under her brother's name.
  5. 5 – Clara Schumann (1819-1896): 19th century German pianist and composer. She was one of the most celebrated pianists of her time and composed more than 60 works.
  6. 6 – Louise Farrenc (1804-1875): 19th century French composer and pianist. Farrenc was one of the few women to have obtained an academic position in the 19th century and composed orchestral, chamber and piano works.
  7. 7 – Amy Beach (1867-1944): 20th century American composer and pianist. Beach was the first American composer to achieve great international acclaim and composed chamber, symphonic and operatic music.
  8. 8 – Ethel Smyth (1858-1944): 20th-century British composer and activist. Smyth composed operas and symphonic works and was one of the first British suffragettes, campaigning for women's right to vote.
  9. 9 – Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969): Polish composer and violinist of the 20th century. Bacewicz composed orchestral, chamber and piano works and gained great popularity in Poland and abroad. Image above.
  10. 10 – Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931): Russian composer of the 20th century. Gubaidulina was one of the first women to become a major name in Soviet musical composition and was honored with several international awards for her contemporary music.

Women composers have long been underrepresented in the history of classical music, but today they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Their presence in classical music is essential for the evolution of culture and art, and their contribution is essential for the growth and evolution of music in general.

Gabriela Lena Frank, Caroline Shaw, Angélica Negrón, Kaija Saariaho and Jennifer Higdon are just some of the women composers who are taking the classical musical tradition in new directions, creating unique works that celebrate cultural diversity, creating new forms of expression. With their voices, diversity and inclusion have become essential parts of the growth and evolution of music and culture in general. Importantly, these women are breaking down gender barriers in music and proving that talent and creativity are genderless. Their wonderful works demonstrate how women can compete globally in any artistic field and that their voice is important for the advancement of society.

And who knows, maybe in a few centuries the question will be “Why are there so many great female composers and so few men?”. Seriously, let's hope the music continues to evolve thanks to the contribution of talented female composers from all over the world!

Other information

In the photo, Kaija Saariaho. An interesting fact about her is that before dedicating herself completely to composition, she studied mathematics, physics and music at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. This interdisciplinary training is reflected in his music, which often incorporates mathematical and scientific elements. For example, in his opera “L'amour de loin”, the musical writing was inspired by the concept of “spatialisation of sound”, in which the instruments are placed at different points on the stage to create a three-dimensional effect for the listener.

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