Thursday, March 22, 2012

Back in the Spotlight

My 2008 article for NewMusicBox, "Lend Me a Pick Ax," is getting some attention this week, following publication of Amy Beth Kirsten's "The 'Woman Composer' is Dead" and the ensuing peppy discussion. (It's apparent that she is not dead.)

Also check out the discussion with Linda Dusman, whom I interviewed for that article.


Tom DePlonty said...

There are some interesting parallels between that discussion and discussions I've seen in recent years about women and chess. There have been debates about whether continuing to hold separate events and championships ghettoizes women players; there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. The players who would like to see separate events eliminated tend to be younger. There was widespread discrimination against women players for most of the history of the game, and a widespread belief that women were incapable of playing as well as men (although you won't hear many people say that today, at least out loud).

Today, the representation of women among the world best players is very small; I believe there is still only one who has ever broken into the world top ten by rating. Some people see that just as the legacy of a past that women have now transcended; others see it as a sign that some kind of "affirmative action" is still needed until women achieve parity in the game.

Lisa Hirsch said...


I used to have a couple of Best Girl trophies from NYC area chess championships. I played on a couple of teams that did reasonably well in one of the lower ranking divisions. My own rating never got above around 1200, though I played at up to 1400 strength from time to time. I was one of, gosh, ten high school girls who entered chess tournaments at the time.

Henry Holland said...

Thanks for the link to your NMB article, a great read.

The quote from Aaron Copland is appalling, especially so coming from a gay man.

As you well know :-), I'm a huge fan of Kaija Saariaho's music. Reading your article, I kept thinking "How many composers like her never even get past the composition class stage" because of bias, the difficulties of fighting to get one's work performed etc.

BTW, I'm still mad at myself for choosing to go to Bard for King Roger instead of Santa Fe for Adriana Mater. Speaking of Santa Fe, I'm looking forward to hearing Higdon's Cold Mountain due in 2015, but sadly, Judith Weir's Miss Fortune, due there as well, has gotten savaged by the British press, mostly because of Weir's libretto.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Henry!

At the time I wrote that article, I didn't know that Charles Seeger said things like "Women can't write symphonies." Poor Ruth Crawford. :(

So do you think Miss Fortune will get picked up anyway?

I'm going to Santa Fe this summer for King Roger and Maometto II.