Classical Music

Music In The Making: Marching On

Kicking off National Women’s History Month!


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On this week’s episode, we mark the beginning of National Women’s History Month with an all-female program, with music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Joan Tower, and Clara Schumann.

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Sechs Lieder, op. 1
Ruth Tomfohrde (piano), Timothy Jones (baritone)
Moores Opera House

Fanny Mendelssohn
Fanny Mendelssohn

When one hears the surname, “Mendelssohn,” one immediately thinks of Felix’s achievements. But his elder sister, Fanny Mendelssohn, was a talented composer in her own right. Though discouraged by her father, and later her brother from publishing her works, Fanny later achieved some measure of independence. She published a set of Lieder free from the involvement of her male relations.

Joan Tower: Amazon
Faculty of the Texas Music Festival
June 6, 2006
Moores Opera House

Joan Tower
Joan Tower

The classical music repertoire remains overwhelmingly dominated by men; for instance, the Baltimore Symphony reports that during the 2014-15 season, across 21 orchestras, 98.2 percent of the music performed was by male composers. Women like Joan Tower, though, are doing their best to change that. Composing predominantly in the instrumental genre, many of her works are composed for people or chamber groups. “Amazon” is one such piece; it was written for the Da Capo Players in 1977, a group with whom Tower performed as a pianist for 15 years.

Clara Schumann: Sonata in G Minor
Nancy Weems, piano
Moores Opera House

Clara Schumann
Clara Schumann

Again, the name “Schumann,” typically makes one think of composer Robert Schumann. But his wife, Clara, was an excellent pianist, known in Europe as “the Queen of the Piano,” where she concertized for over 60 years. She also composed her own music, for both publication and performance. The “Sonata in G Minor” was a work written after her marriage to Robert, and was her first attempt at writing in this genre.

This episode originally aired Sunday, March 5th, 2017. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.