Author Topic: Your top 10 favorite female composers  (Read 2133 times)

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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Your top 10 favorite female composers
« on: August 15, 2021, 01:19:51 PM »
I don't think this thread has been done already. What do you consider your favorite female composers? A tough question for sure, but let's see what you pick.

My list:

Grażyna Bacewicz
Lili Boulanger
Dorotheen Carwithen
Louise Farrenc
Elena Kats-Chernin
Elizabeth Maconchy
Dora Pejačević
Zara Levina
Amy Beach
Ruth Gipps
« Last Edit: August 15, 2021, 01:25:17 PM by Symphonic Addict »
Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven's sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

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Offline relm1

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2021, 03:45:22 PM »
Hildegard of Bingen 
Lili Boulanger
Alexis Alrich
Elizabeta Brusa
Kaija Saariaho
Caroline Shaw
Ruth Gipps
Elizabeth Maconchy
Libby larsen
Thea Musgrave

I regret to say I don't know the music of Sofia Gubaidulina at all but feel like I should.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2021, 06:13:01 PM »
There aren’t that many female composers that ‘speak’ to me, but I do like the following a lot:

Grażyna Bacewicz
Lili Boulanger
Ester Mägi
Ruth Crawford Seeger
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2021, 09:06:42 PM »
I'd have problems ranking them in details,

but top tier would be:
- Saariaho
- Gubaidulina

second tier would be:
- Dlugoszewski
- Crawford-Seeger
- Bacewicz
- Narbutaite

third tier:
- L.Boulanger
- Chin
- Ustvolskaya (though some of her stuff is too brutal for me)
- Gloria Coates (not the perpetually-glissandi works)

I've got other stuff, including some mentioned here, also Maconchy and Musgrave (but not Carwithen, Shaw, Brusa and Alrich), however haven't listened that much.

Others are Jolas, Maric, Kapralova, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Alma Mahler, Borissova-Ollas, Oliveros, Firsova, Pavlova, Bauckholt, Beamish, Sheng, Tailleferre, Chaminade, Neuwirth, Zechlin, Strozzi, etc.

« Last Edit: August 16, 2021, 12:38:59 AM by MusicTurner »

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2021, 12:28:43 AM »
I won't pretend to have extensive knowledge of many of the female composers that others might list, and I don't think I can comfortably reach ten without including those with whom I have only a passing awareness or slight familiarity. I do have some who I particularly enjoy and look forward to adding more skilled composers (who happen to be female):

Alla Pavlova - I've come to deeply appreciate the 8 recorded symphonies so far on Naxos, and the 2 on YouTube. Big 2021 discovery
Karin Rehnqvist - the more I hear her work, the more I enjoy it. 'On A Distant Shore' and 'Arktis, Arktis!' are great starting points
Gloria Coates - because of her SQs
Ruth Gipps - Symphonies 2 & 4 on Chandos, Seascape and Symphony 3 on Youtube, are all great
Sally Beamish - VC, The Singing, River...
Kaija Saariaho - I have her Works for Orchestra on Ondine, and often return to it

Of all of these, Alla Pavlova sees most airtime.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2021, 01:07:35 AM by foxandpeng »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2021, 11:29:02 AM »
Alpha:
Grażyna Bacewicz
Victoria Borisova-Ollas
Cécile Chaminade
Anna Clyne
Louise Farrenc
Gabriela Lena Frank
Elena Kats-Chernin
Florence Price

Price's piano solo and chamber music is a significant improvement on the symphonies.

Caroline Shaw would have made this list in the past but I have soured on the achievement of her Partita with the realization that basically everything truly original in it was in fact not original but plagiarized from non-European musical traditions.

This thread will inspire me to revisit Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, and Gabriela Montero, all of whom I have fond memories of but little of whose work I remember in detail.

Those who enjoy Dora Pejacevic must also hear Helena Munktell, a student of d'Indy who wrote fine chamber music and songs.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2021, 11:52:37 AM »
Nice lists. I just would like to add a name of Vítězslava Kaprálová.

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2021, 12:42:45 PM »
I don't have a top 10, but I do keep my ears open.

Hildegard of Bingen
Kaija Saariaho (need to catch up there but heard some of her works with Karita Mattila on CD which I enjoyed)

A recording which has kept growing on me by a Nashville composer named Conni Ellisor:  Blackberry Winter (She uses some traditional folk instruments in it).  Really a lovely work!  Please check it out...first youtube link here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQaLuklN73Q

Bacewicz I'm working on...can't find much of her music to borrow.   :(

What do others here think of Clara Schumann's works?  I haven't heard them before.

Also, I'm checking out Jennifer Higdon's works.

PD

Offline Brian

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2021, 12:54:47 PM »
What do others here think of Clara Schumann's works?  I haven't heard them before.
A lot of orchestras are programming her piano concerto now, but it does not show her at her best - she wrote it as a teenager, and it has a really interesting slow movement for piano, solo cello, and drums (!), but the rest is, well, teenage music student stuff. She did lots of lovely transcriptions of her husband's songs as an adult and generally her best work is in solo/chamber music.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2021, 12:55:03 PM »
I'm only familiar with sadly few:

Hildegard von Bingen
Grażyna Bacewicz
Lili Boulanger
Clara Schumann
Vítězslava Kaprálová
Sofia Gubaidulina
Ester Mägi

Everything I've heard from each of these composers has been excellent. Definitely need to hear more!

Offline VonStupp

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2021, 09:09:12 AM »
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Ruth Crawford Seeger
Doreen Carwithen
Joan Tower
Emma Lou Diemer
Anna Thorvaldsdottir
Gabriela Lena Frank
Sarah Kirkland Snider
Jennifer Higdon

I can't say I have fully explored many of these composers, especially the contemporary composers, but from the premieres I have heard, my interest has been piqued.
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2021, 09:45:04 AM »
A lot of orchestras are programming her piano concerto now, but it does not show her at her best - she wrote it as a teenager, and it has a really interesting slow movement for piano, solo cello, and drums (!), but the rest is, well, teenage music student stuff. She did lots of lovely transcriptions of her husband's songs as an adult and generally her best work is in solo/chamber music.
Thanks for the info Brian!

PD

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2021, 10:31:09 AM »
Not in order of preference:

Ina Boyle
Dobrinka Tabakova
Zara Levina
Nina Makarova
Judith Bailey
Ruth Gipps
Lili Boulanger
Doreen Carwithen
Grace Williams
Elizabeta Brusa
« Last Edit: August 17, 2021, 10:33:22 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2021, 10:35:57 AM »
Alpha:
Grażyna Bacewicz
Victoria Borisova-Ollas
Cécile Chaminade
Anna Clyne
Louise Farrenc
Gabriela Lena Frank
Elena Kats-Chernin
Florence Price

Price's piano solo and chamber music is a significant improvement on the symphonies.

Caroline Shaw would have made this list in the past but I have soured on the achievement of her Partita with the realization that basically everything truly original in it was in fact not original but plagiarized from non-European musical traditions.

This thread will inspire me to revisit Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, and Gabriela Montero, all of whom I have fond memories of but little of whose work I remember in detail.

Those who enjoy Dora Pejacevic must also hear Helena Munktell, a student of d'Indy who wrote fine chamber music and songs.
+1 for Borisova-Ollas
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2021, 10:53:32 AM »
I know taste differs - but any list that does not include Lili Boulanger is simply incomplete!  She was one the great composers regardless of era, genre or gender.....

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2021, 10:57:09 AM »
Random order...

Kaija Saariaho
Caroline Shaw
Missy Mazzoli
Meredith Monk
Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir
Anna Thorvaldsdottir
Onutė Narbutaitė
Alla Pavlova
Julia Wolfe
Dobrinka Tabakova

Offline Brewski

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2021, 11:42:04 AM »
Some great lists in this thread. My choices today:

Grażyna Bacewicz
Lili Boulanger
Unsuk Chin
Sofia Gubaidulina
Catherine Lamb
Missy Mazzoli
Olga Neuwirth
Pauline Oliveros
Kaija Saariaho
Rebecca Saunders
Kate Soper

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Offline VonStupp

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2021, 12:50:45 PM »
I know taste differs - but any list that does not include Lili Boulanger is simply incomplete!  She was one the great composers regardless of era, genre or gender.....

Ahh! You're right! And even with quite a bit of chatter surrounding her lately, I missed her on my list.  :'(

As penance for my egregious faux pas, I shall queue up my Boulanger Markevitch recording...



« Last Edit: August 17, 2021, 02:10:32 PM by VonStupp »
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2021, 03:35:49 AM »
So from you Lili Boulanger fans, which of her works are your favorites?  And where do you suggest I start dipping my toes into?

PD

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Your top 10 favorite female composers
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2021, 11:33:28 AM »

Olga Neuwirth


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Being a David Lynch fan (see my avatar) I should know Neuwirth, or at least have listened to her Lost Highway opera. Perhaps that will be my listening for tonight.