The WFMT Radio Network


First Ladies of Music

Overview: What/Who we will be hearing

What was the function of music in earliest times?

  • Birthing/Midwives
  • Laments over death and war
  • Lullabies
  • Love/Madrigals
  • Entertainment - for royalty, to achieve position and rand; later, for the evening's entertainment (rise of the middle class) - all educated persons are taught to play an instrument and learn to sing.

What did it take to succeed?

  • Talent
  • Will/single-mindedness
  • Patronage/family
  • Luck/opportunity

Why do we know so little about women composers and what happened to them?

How was music used for functions, birthing, laments, special occasions and concerts?

Did women enjoy royal patronage? We'll get an overview of some of the music from early and more contemporary music history to start our understanding of women in music.

Music by a variety of composers, from ancient times to today.
Music inspired by Sappho.

  • Hildegarde Von Bingen: Kyrie
  • Anne Boleyn: Canon, O Death, Rock Me to Sleep
  • Francesca Caccini: Selections from La Liberazione
  • Barbara Strozzi: Songs, Tradimento and Miei pensieri
  • Maria Martinez: Sinfonia (3 movements)
  • Fannie Mendelssohn: Song Without Words, Op. 5
  • Adeline Shepherd: Pickles and Peppers Rag

Can you hear gender in music?

Greek Divas
The primary focus of this program is on the extraordinary career of Maria Callas. Another Greek Diva, Agnes Baltsa, is included, and Dame Nellie Melba (an Australian singer) whom Callas admired. The historical importance of Maria Callas is twofold: she renewed the operatic repertoire, and she upgraded the importance of its dramatic element. She also had the vocal and histrionic talent to achieve this. We hear Callas with students, teaching a master class at the Julliard School in New York City, and she is interviewed by Edward Downes. Agnes Baltsa is a living Greek Diva, who benefited by a Callas scholarship.

  • Bellini: Casta Diva from Norma (Maria Callas)
  • Puccini: Master class taught by Maria Callas with excerpts from La Boheme - I call Myself Mimi
  • Puccini: Visi D'Arte from Tosca (Maria Callas)
  • Gounod: The Waltz Song from Romeo and Juliet (sung by Dame Nellie Melba, then by Maria Callas)
  • Wagner: Traume from Wesendonk Leider (Agnes Baltsa)
  • Mahler: Song of the Earth (Agnes Baltsa)
  • Gluck: Aria from Alceste (Maria Callas)
  • Puccini: Farewell Aria from Madame Butterfly (Maria Callas)
  • Verdi: Aria from MacBeth (Maria Callas)

Plus 2 interviews with Edward Downes.

Music of the Salon Period
During the Salon period — the early 19th century — women began to find ways to be independent artists. All of the women on this program are powerhouse composers, and for some, being female was not a hindrance. But for Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, the lack of family support — particularly by her father and her famous brother, Felix — prevented from reaching her full potential.

  • Louise Farrenc: Impromptu in B Minor for Piano; 1st mvt of Piano Quintet, Op. 30; Finale of Piano Quintet, Op. 31
  • Fanny Mendelssohn: Organ Prelude in F; Chorus from Cantata, Lobgesang; Demonstration of B Minor Song Without Words; 3rd mvt of Piano Trio
  • Pauline Viardot-Garcia: Three songs: Les filles de Cadix; Plainte d'Amour; Desespoir
  • Louise Viardot: 1st mvt of Spanish Piano Quartet

European Women Composers in the 19th Century
In the 1800s, women were still encouraged to "stay in their place," but this program looks at four women composers who were successful professionally — Clara Schumann was a superstar performer, but again, did not receive support as a composer from her more famous husband, Robert. Carreno and Chaminade, both terrific pianists, weren't held back because of their gender.

  • Clara Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor, 3rd mvt
  • Teresa Carreno: Revue a Prague (piano); String Quartet in B Minor, 1st mvt
  • Agathe Backer-Grondahl: Waltz Caprice (piano)
  • Cecile Chaminade: Flute Concerto (last 3 sections); Trio in G Minor, last mvt

Pioneer Pianists
Gina Bachauer, Dame Myra Hess and Helene Grimaud, are women who broke the barrier, established new guidelines and waded into repertoire that had traditionally been for men only. Once upon a time, the highest praise a woman pianist could receive was "you sound like a man." Our three pianists struck into new territories. Virginia Eskin demonstrates frequently from the keyboard some of the idiosyncratic practices of each pianist.

  • Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4, 1st movement (Gina Bachauer, piano)
  • Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit. Sir John Gielgud recites the Bertrand poem and Gina Bachauer plays Ondine.
  • Schubert: Sonata in A Major, Op. 120 (Dame Myra Hess, piano)
  • Bach: Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (Dame Myra Hess, piano)
  • Rachmaninov: Etude Tableau No. 9 (Helene Grimaud, piano)
    - Includes live interview excerpt with Brian Bell, official BSO interviewer, talking to Grimaud about her deep interest in wolves.
  • Bach: Prelude No. 6 (Helene Grimaud, piano)
  • Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1, last mvt (Helene Grimaud, piano)

String and Percussion Performers
The focus of this program is on string and percussion. Our performers are Maud Powell, Jacqueline Du Pre and Dame Evelyn Glennie. Powell was a superb violinist, Du Pre and incredible cellist and Glennie is a true pioneer as a concert percussionist. Powell gave the American premieres of some of the most important violin concertos ever composed. Until Du Pre came onto the scene, there had only been male cellist soloists - Jacqueline Du Pre brought glamour and superb technique to her performances. Dame Evelyn Glennie, who happens to be deaf but is a true trailblazer, has more commissions than any other performer today. To connect with the orchestra she feels the vibrations through the floor by playing in her bare feet.

  • Amy Beach: Romance, Op. 23 (Joseph Silverstein, violin; Virginia Eskin piano)
  • Anon: Old Kentucky Home; Old Black Joe; Shine On; Kingdom Coming (Maud Powell, violin)
  • Dvorak: In the Woods (Jacqueline Du Pre, cello)
  • Elgar: Cello Concerto (Jacqueline Du Pre, cello)
  • Margaret Brouwer: Sizzle (Evelyn Glennie, percussion)
  • Milhaud: Concerto for Percussion (Evelyn Glennie, percussion)
  • Dougherty: Unidentified (Evelyn Glennie, percussion)
  • Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag (Evelyn Glennie, xylophone)

American Women - The Early Years (1880s-1920s)
First Ladies visits American women composers and listeners will hear more about how personal lives and professional work were connected. Amy Beach and Margaret Lang, both Boston based composers and performers, were successful in both areas of their lives. Lang's Dramatic Overture was the first work by a woman, played by an American orchestra. Now, women composers are up onstage, enjoying careers, and beginning to achieve some recognition.

  • Margaret Ruthven Lang: Rhapsody (live performance by Virginia Eskin) Song, In the Twilight
  • Mary Howe: Sand; Traits from Interlude Between, Two pieces for Flute and Piano
  • Carrie Jacobs-Bond: Four of her Half-Minute Songs; A Little Pink Rose
  • Amy Beach: Song, Ariette; Piano Quintet in F-Sharp Minor; Song, Dark is the Night; Movements from Gaelic Symphony

The Conductors
Sarah Caldwell, Marin Alsop and Frieda Belinfante Sarah Caldwell was the great impresaria of her time. She was the first woman to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera. Marin Alsop was one of the first women to be named as music director of a major orchestra — we will hear her speaking to the children of Baltimore in the ORCHkids project. Frieda Belinfante was a Holocaust survivor and eventually came to Hollywood, and we hear her amazing tale of her musical life.

  • Donizetti: Don Pasquale, Act 1, Scene 1, Quel Guardo Il Cavaliere (Beverly Sills); Portion of 2nd Act of Don Pasquale (London Symphony Orchestra, Sarah Caldwell, conductor)
  • Libby Larsen: 3rd movement from her Solo Symphony, Once Around (Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor)
  • Aaron Copland: Dance Symphony (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop, conductor)
  • Joan Tower: Fanfare No. 4 for the Uncommon Woman (Colorado Symphony Orchestra; Marin Alsop, conductor)
  • Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor)
  • Schubert: Death and the Maiden (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor)

The Holocaust
Holocaust and suffering — on this program, listeners will hear some rare and rarely performed music and stories from the women we chose. This program can be exceptionally helpful to further knowledge on this powerful subject (April is Holocaust-awareness month). We begin with the music of Alma Mahler, an under-appreciated composer who lived before WWII.

  • Alma Mahler: Three Songs: Laue Sommernacht; Bei mir ist so Traut; Ich Wandle unter Blume; Die stille Stadt; In meines Vaters Garten
  • Ilse Weber: Song, Wiegala
  • Viteslava Kapralova: Dubnova Preludia (April Preludes), for Piano; String Quartet (four movements)
  • Sylvia Glickman: Songs: A Father's Farewell; Zol Zayn

Impressionism and Ragtime
This program starts with composers from the Impressionism period and moves to that most American form, Ragtime. Listeners will hear the music of two Frenchwomen, Lili Boulanger and Germaine Tailleferre. Then Virginia Eskin will explain and play Rags by women. Listeners can learn from and enjoy the stories about their lives.

  • Composers 1: Impressionist
  • Lilli Boulanger: D'un Matin de Printemps (orchestra); Three Songs, Le Retour, Attente, Reflets
  • Germaine Tailleferre: Rondo (3rd mvt) from Concertino for Harp and Orchestra; Pastorale (piano)
  • Composers 2: American Ragtime
  • Florence Price: Movements from Mississippi River Suite; Silk Hat and Walking Cane
  • May Aufderheide: Dusty Rag
  • Mary Watson: Dish Rag
  • Judith Laing Zaimont: Judy's Rag
  • Marjorie Merryman: Dog Day Rag
  • Adeline Shepherd: Pickles and Peppers Rag

Women of the 1930s
First ladies of Music will showcase the more intellectual composers of the early 1900s. Women are beginning to travel and study abroad, and have their work played by major American orchestras. Listeners can hear music by women that is modern, individualistic, and very attractive. Many of these women were virtuoso performers as well as composers, enjoying successful careers in both arenas.

  • Marian Bauer: Piano Prelude in D, Op. 15, No. 1 (Unpublished work in Library of Congress — played live by Virginia Eskin); Violin Sonata, Fantasia quasi una sonata, 1st. mvt
  • Manna-Zucca: Intermezzo; Eili, Eili (Virginia Eskin)
  • Ruth Crawford Seeger: Suite for Four Strings and Piano, 3rd mvt, Mixed Accents for Piano
  • Rebecca Clarke: Prelude for Viola and Clarinet; Viola Sonata, 1st & 2nd mvts

Women of Jazz and Performance Artists
Women of color who transcended birth and became important musicians, and women who are creating careers as performance artists. The show is very diverse, ranging from Lil Hardin and Josephine Baker to living artists Diamanda Galas and Gabriela Montero. All top ladies in their fields!

  • Lil Hardin: Hotter than Hot; Gut Bucket Blues and Tears (Lil Hardin)
  • LeMarchand-Bouillon: Don't Touch My Tomatoes (sung by Josephine Baker)
  • Maselleo-Mosetti: Sous Les Toits de Paris (sung by Josephine Baker)
  • Bella-LeLivre-Varna: Dis Mois, Josephine (sung by Josephine Baker)
  • Donaldson: You're Driving Me Crazy (sung by Josephine Baker)
  • Bach: Prelude (played by Gabriela Montero)
  • Scarlatti: Sonata (played by Gabriela Montero)
  • Pauline Oliveros: Sound Patterns (Brandeis Chamber Choir; Alvin Lucier, conductor)
  • John Cage: The Perilous Night (played by Margaret Tang)
  • Diamanda Galas: Baby's Insane (played by Diamanda Galas)
  • Hank Williams: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (performed by Diamanda Galas)
  • Schwartz-Dietz: Dancing in the Dark (performed by Diamanda Galas)

Women of the orchestra and women who have taken music into different realms, music therapists, web designers and music librarians.

Doriot Anthony Dwyer
Martha Babcock
Julia Adams
Elisa Birdseye
Christine Vitale