Mythological Girls: Bachué

Bachué is the mother goddess and master of the Muisca or Chibcha culture, an ancient Colombian civilisation. They were native to the area now known as Bogotá, and gained fame as the origin of the El Dorado legend. Bachué was believed to have emerged from the waters of the Iguaque Lake surrounded by light, holding a three-year-old baby in her arms. They walked to the plains surrounding the lake and built a hut, which was then considered to be the first Chibcha dwelling. Following this, her centre of worship became a temple in the San Pedro de Iguaque area. In the years that followed, her baby...

read more

Musical Gals: Changing perceptions on women and music

After exploring the life of Clara Schumann, it seems appropriate to take a break, and consider for a moment how perceptions of women in music have changed throughout the ages. One nineteenth century contemporary stated that women “rarely attempt the more mature forms because such works assume a certain abstract strength that is overwhelmingly given to men.” Putting my disgust at the comment aside for a moment, it made me dig deeper, and think about how far society has come. Women were rarely seen within the music composition industry until more recently. In the 1100s, the only music composed...

read more

Musical Gals: Clara Schumann (Part 2)

Music Period: Romantic era (1830 – 1900) Location: Leipzig, Germany Claim to Fame: One of the foremost pianists and greatest performers of the nineteenth century. With audiences in raptures over her music, Clara toured extensively towards the end of the decade. She produced many new works for her programmes and several published works appeared in 1833. These included Romance variée, which she dedicated to Robert Schumann – a young student now living with the Wieck family. All her performances received thunderous applause and Clara would boast that she beat her record of thirteen...

read more

Harriet Tubman: Abolitionist, Humanitarian, Spy

In third grade, I picked up a biography of Harriet Tubman, and ever since I’ve been fascinated by her life. In school I learned Tubman was a famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. She escaped slavery in Maryland by entering the free state of Pennsylvania. It was dangerous, but she risked her life to save herself from the perils of slavery. She could have simply enjoyed her newfound freedom, but instead she fearlessly attempted to save her friends and family. She saved hundreds of people and is said to have never lost a passenger. Though many of these stories are tales of bravery...

read more

Musical Gals: Clara Schumann (Part 1)

Music Period: Romantic era (1830 – 1900) Location: Leipzig, Germany Claim to Fame: One of the foremost pianists and greatest performers of the nineteenth century. Clara Schumann was part of what has been described as the “greatest musical love story of the nineteenth century”. The musical partnership that developed with her husband would last twenty-six years. They shared musical ideas and sometimes quoted one another in their works. Yet, Clara faced many obstacles throughout her career and constantly battled against social ideals about women. It is perhaps because of these...

read more

‘Lovely, Human, True, Heartfelt’ – Alina Szapocznikow

Alina Szapocznikow was born in 1926 into a Jewish family in Poland. In the early period of her life she faced significant trauma and persecution. In 1940, during the German occupation of Poland, she was imprisoned in the Ghetto of Łódź and later in Pabianice. During this time, from the age of fourteen to seventeen, she worked as a nurse alongside her mother. From 1943, she was placed in various concentration camps. By the end of the war she had survived three camps: Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Therezin. Upon liberation, Szapocznikow moved to Paris. It was here, at nineteen years old, that...

read more

Musical Gals: Fanny Mendelssohn

Music Period: Romantic era (1830 – 1900) Location: Berlin, Germany Claim to Fame: composing over 400 works in her lifetime, and being the only composer of the time to depict each of the twelve months of the year musically. The closest any other composer came to doing this was Antonio Vivaldi with his Four Seasons in 1725. Fanny Mendelssohn (1805 – 1847) was one of the most important composers of the Romantic era. She performed and conducted music on a regular basis, earning her a reputation as an exceptional musical talent. Berlin music critic, Ludwig Rellstab, wrote that she “had...

read more

Musical Gals: Barbara Strozzi

Music Period: Baroque era (1600 – 1750) Location: Venice, Italy Claim to Fame: Barbara published eight collections of her works and her music used the words with the music to portray meaning. There lies an air of mystery when looking at Barbara Strozzi (1619 – 1677). What we do know, however, brings to light an intriguing musical figure who is one of the most outstanding female composers in history. From a young age, she studied under respected musicians, and went on to publish eight collections of her music within her lifetime. This was an incredible achievement in the male-dominated world...

read more

Famous Female Outlaws: Pearl Hart

Pearl Hart (born as Pearl Taylor) was born in Ontario, Canada in 1871 and earned notoriety by being one of the only women to rob a stagecoach. She had a fairly ordinary upbringing, coming from a middle class family and receiving a good education. Things changed at 17 when she eloped with Frederick Hart, a bartender, gambler, and heavy drinker. The couple travelled to the Columbian Exposition and Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where Fred had found work as a midway barker. Pearl was inspired by some of the female speakers she heard, including Annie Oakley. Soon after, she left Fred and...

read more

Musical Gals: Francesca Caccini 

Music Period: Baroque era (1600 – 1750) Location: Florence, Italy Claim to Fame: the first woman known to have written an opera. She pushed boundaries with her book specifically written for women performers. Francesca Caccini was born on 18th September 1587 to two musicians. Her mother, Lucia di Filippo Gagnolanti, was a singer and her father, Giulio Caccini, was a renowned composer. At the time, her father was the second most highly paid composer and musician for the Medici family. Giulio was also the celebrated author of the most influential singing manual of the 1600s. Due to her...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest