Sunday, October 12, 2008

Americans in Rome

Bridge Records has what looks like a fascinating new release, a four-CD collection of music written by composers who were fellows of the American Academy in Rome. The works on this recording cover the period from 1920 to 2003, so you can imagine the diversity of styles. There's a 64-page booklet that includes all texts set by the composers. 

My only beef is the tiny number of women represented, which, judging by the completely unambiguous names, is one, Tamar Diesendruck, and might be as high as three.


Keith said...

How many female composers were fellows of the American Academy during the period covered? It may be that there weren't more female composers to choose from.

Not that I think the compilers should have been concerned with gender; more important by a long shot is choosing the best music, regardless of who wrote it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That's part of the implied point of my posting. There aren't that many women who've won the Rome Prize; the list of women who were overlooked is quite long. Yes, women who wrote excellent music.

Kyle said...

After googling the other ambiguous names, I found that Bun-Ching Lam is the only other woman represented.

Actually, I wasn't even aware that Diesendruck is a woman. Not that I'm too familiar with her work. But I do remember being left with good impressions of it.

But surely there's been more women than Lam and Diesendruck at the Academy, right?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Here are all the women who've received the Rome Prize in composition:

Barbara Kolb, 1971 & 1976
Tamar Diesendruck, 1984
Kathryn Alexander, 1989
Michelle Ekzian, 1989
Ellen Taafe Zwillich, 1990
Bun-Ching Lam, 1992

The directories are on line here: http://www.sof-aarome.org/sof_directories.html

It's worth a look to see who gets the music fellowships and who doesn't. There are some luminaries and many unknowns. I'm not persuaded that everyone who got them wrote the best music or that women who didn't get the prize wrote less good music than many men who did.

Anonymous said...

There are two separate complaints here, and they ought to be differentiated:

1) Against the Academy for not choosing more of the qualified women candidates;

2) Against the CD's selectors for not choosing more of the women who did go to Rome.

And looking at the list you provide, I'd say the second complaint as well as the first has validity. In particular, omitting Ellen Zwilich? Come on!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yes to both of those!

Davidovich said...

Recently also -

Carolyn Yarnell
Shihue Chen

Davidovich said...

Not to mention Susan Botti

Lisa Hirsch said...