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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Musical Gals: Hildegard von Bingen

Music Period: Early Music (500 – 1400) Location: Bermersheim, Germany Claim to Fame: using repeated motifs within her music and giving religious music a freer, almost improvisatory, feel. As Maria von Trapp sings in The Sound of Music, “let’s start at the very beginning”, and discover the story of a female composer from the 1100s. We are talking of Hildegard von Bingen and today we think of her as one of the first identifiable female composers of Western music. Yet, before 1979, there was no mention of her name. You would not find her in any reference book if searching the university library...

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A Virginal and a Queen

  Do you play the piano? What about the harpsichord? Have you heard of a virginal before? If you haven’t, you’re not alone, but virginals used to be common household instruments, and anyone who was anyone had one. Virginals are in the same family of instruments as the harpsichord. And though harpsichords look very similar to pianos and are played in the same way, the way they make sounds are different. While pianos produce sound by striking the strings with a hammer, the strings in harpsichords and virginals are plucked. The placement of the keyboard determines where the...

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Musicians AND Mothers

It’s no secret that the music industries, well, all creative industries really, rely pretty heavily on stereotypes. You’ve got the whirlwind tornadoes with a rock n roll lifestyle not ready to be tamed, the ones considered crazy or weird, the angelic group of soppy crushes, and then strangely as women reach an age; the childless. I’ve noticed that it’s rarely noted if a male has a child or not. Yet for women artists in the mainstream, the gossip magazines question the sex life and even the fertility of a female, and are quick to assume a small bloat is the making of a baby bump. Though I...

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Interview with a Music Journalist: Leonie Cooper

Leonie Cooper used to send reviews of every gig she attended to NME, until they published them. That was fourteen years ago, and now she’s a senior staff writer at one of the UK’s biggest new music magazines, online and in print. Some things are just meant to be. “I don’t ever remember taking an active decision to work in music journalism,” says Leonie, “but things just kind of wonderfully fell into place.” From starting up a sixth form newspaper, to undertaking a number of work experience placements and internships, Leonie notes that “by staying in contact with people at those titles, [she]...

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Experiences of a Music Journalist

It’s the same almost every time. Hours before the show is about to start, I’m hanging around the stage door. The tour bus has verified that the artist is just behind the wall in front of me, and I’m in good company. Sometimes it’s a couple of people, sometimes it’s a swarm. I pull out my phone, scroll through emails and screenshot them ready. With a deep breath I approach the yellow coat wearing security guy, and reel off the correct information as though I’m in an exam. Doubtful, my phone is always checked, an eye often rolled. All before I’m let in to do my job. As a music journalist, I’m...

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