Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Women Composers Today

There hasn't been an addition to the reviews sidebar in months, and that's because I was working on a long article for New Music Box. The article was published today, and Molly Sheridan gave it a most wonderful title: Lend Me a Pick Ax: The Slow Dismantling of the Compositional Gender Divide.

I started working on this article back in early January, and quickly discovered that the current status of women composers is a huge subject. Check Google Scholar and you'll see what I mean. And there's plenty more to be reported.

Deepest thanks to everyone I wrote about in the article, a great group of composers: Linda Dusman, Pamela Z, Caroline Mallonée, Kyle Bartlett, Elaine Fine, Alex Shapiro, Sheila Silver, and Alice Shields. Check out their music!


sarah said...

Great article, Lisa! Beautifully written. For more on the subject, check out Pauline Oliveros' groundbreaking essay "Don't Call Them Lady Composers" at
and also Kyle Gann's essay:

Thanks for your wonderful work, Lisa.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Sarah. U read the Oliveros essay while researching the article, though I didn't quote it. Will read Gann for sure.

Unknown said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your thoughtful and well researched article. Have never understood why women were written out of history. Since they were writing, why not history? As you say it's a huge subject for exploration. I think the problem is often visual--composers look like Beethoven. Women just don't look like composers.

A noteworthy woman composer, Bebe Barron, died April 20th. Perhaps you knew of her? She and her husband Louis had the first electronic music studio in the US beginning in 1949. (Only they didn't know it was music until John Cage came to work in their studio.) They were a unique team: Louis built the circuits, and Bebe actually was the composer. NYT obit:
My interview with Bebe:

Thanks again for your great work, Lisa~! And love your blog's title.

Jane Brockman
P.S. Mine was the first doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1977).

Unknown said...

Sorry: first woman doctor of Composition at Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Anonymous said...

Terrific article, Lisa; I sent it along to a bunch of friends, one of whom, a teacher at Mills, was inspired to order The World of Women in Clasical Music for the school library.

I bet I know why the American Symphony Orchestra League changed its name, too.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Jane, thank you, no, I don't know them.

rootless: thank you, and hahaha!