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Female Composers

Farrenc Female Composers

Louise Farrenc Clarinet

Arguably the greatest female composer in history; Louise Farrenc like so many other female composers, faded into obscurity. If the woman who runs this web site has anything to do with it … you’ll be hearing a lot more from her!

(*there is a fair bit on my site already that features female composers, but I was struck today by this piece: And I do love the clarinet!)

Louise Farrenc’s clarinet trio / second movement

Louise Farrenc’s clarinet trio second movement orange_download_button

Farrenc Female Composers Women!

More of a great Female composer

Louise Ferrenc – who one critic proclaimed the greatest female composer. I’m listening to her more often these days and always come away with the feeling that she truly is a great composer. Here are 3 complete compositions.

Farrenc Sonata #1 in 3 movements


Farrenc Sonata #2 in 4 movements


Farrenc: Variation concertantes sur une melodie suisse Op. 20 in 8 movements


If you haven’t already seen this posting … check it out. Some very interesting material about the discrimination towards women in Classical music.

You might also want to listen to the Long Play selection of her music.

Female Composers Schumann Schumann, Clara Women!

Deathbed Request

Consider: What music would someone want to hear when they knew they were dying?

It’s especially fascinating to consider when that someone had devoted their entire life to music. She met and collaborated with some of the 19th Century’s greatest composers: Married and lived with one of those Great composers.

That was Clara Schumann – Robert’s wife – a musical heroine if there ever was one! (Google her to find out why she was such a Heroine, raising 8 children, touring Europe and taking care of her husband – it’s a great story)

She asked to hear this piece on her deathbed.

In March 1896, Clara Schumann suffered a stroke. Her friend Johannes Brahms canceled plans for an Italian vacation to wait for news of her improvement. On her deathbed, she asked her grandson Ferdinand to play her husband’s F-sharp major romance for her. That was the last music Clara Schumann heard. She died May 20, 1896. Brahms attended the funeral. He died eleven months later.

Robert Schumann: Romance in F# Op.28

Robert Schumann: Romance, Op.28 in F sharp

Beach Boulanger Carreno Chaminade Farrenc Female Composers Martines Mendelssohn, Fanny Women!

Female Composers

After my last posting “Clara Schumann – the only woman?!” (the next one down the page) my brother sent me an email with a link showing hundreds of female Classical composers. I took this as a sign! I needed to research and listen. How many of these female composers were considered to be very accomplished? On a par with the men? Why weren’t any of them included in that ‘Boy’s Club’ list of “Great Composers”? It was a fantastic journey into territory I knew nothing about.

The two big questions for you dear listener (and for me too;  since I haven’t listened really carefully yet after acquiring the pieces – but I will!)  1) Can you hear the same ‘greatness’ in some of the pieces?  2) Can you detect a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) colour/tone/vibe of the Feminine Principle?

Under each composer is a link to Biographical information.

Since a reviewer I used in my research declared: “Madame Farrenc is certainly the greatest woman-composer in the history of classical music.” I’ll save her until last; along with some germain notes on the issue.

Marianne von Martines (Martinez)  (May 4, 1744 – December 13, 1812) A student of Haydn. You can certainly hear it!

Sonata number 3 in A maj. all 3 movements (approx. 14 minutes)

Fanny Mendelssohn (14 November 1805 – 14 May 1847)

Lied no. 3 op. 4 Andante Cantabile

Lied no. 4 op. 5 Lento Apassionatto

Teresa Carreno (December 22, 1853 – June 12, 1917)

String Quartet in B minor – II. Andante

Clara Schumann (13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896)

Variacions op. 20

Cecile Chaminade (August 8, 1857 – April 13, 1944)

La Morena (Caprice Espangnole), Op. 67

Amy Beach (September 5, 1867 – December 27, 1944)

(if this wasn’t composed under a strong Rachmaninoff  influence – I’ll eat my hat!)

Piano Concerto in C sharp minor, op. 45 III Largo

Lili Boulanger (21 August 1893–15 March 1918)

Dun vieu jardin

Louise Farrenc (May 31, 1804 – September 15, 1875)

Besides the wikipedia reference above, I found another review of her life and music in which the author declared:  Madame Farrenc is certainly the greatest woman-composer in the history of classical music. In this review it was pointed out how highly regarded she was at the time, and the great composers she was associated with, or who admired her work. (she studied with Hummell, Anton Reicha and was admired by Schumann and Berlioz) SO? Why didn’t she join the ranks of The Greats? Some of the reasons are in the Wikipedia article, about half way down, titled ‘ Why did Farrenc remain unknown as a composer?’

But what about the elephant in the room?! Male Chauvinist attitudes? “…the best known Paris critic of the 19th Century, François-Joseph Fétis (1784–1871) included her name in his important lexicon “Universal Biography of Musicians” and stressed her “quasi masculine gift for musical organisation”. (*”quasi masculine gift”?!) The same critic who proclaimed her the greatest woman composer, in the next breath states:  Notwithstanding her evident extraordinary artistic and technical qualities, Madame Farrenc’s works do not show the presence of this invisible and indefinable spark, which marks the difference between the great talent and the genius.”

Aha .. the invisible and indefinable spark. What’s a woman to do?!

Farrenc Long Play 24 minutes long


Sonata No. 1, Op. 37: II. Poco adagio

Etudes opus 26 – No 18 en re bemol majeur

Nonette pour cordes et vents en mi bemol majeur Adagiol

Variations concertantes sur une mélodie suisse, Op. 20

Improptu en Si Menor

Nonette pour cordes et vents en mi bemol majeur Adagio

Female Composers LONG PLAYING SELECTIONS Piano Schumann, Clara The only woman! Women!

Clara Schumann – the only woman?!

Clara Schumann wrote:

“I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose — there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?”

It never occured to me until today when I began researching Clara’s work; that not a single Classical composer – ranked as a “Great” –  was a woman!  How very strange. Well Clara Schumann was certainly an accomplished composer, and what a person! She raised 8 children (4 died before her) cared for a husband who became more and more unstable, befriended and grew very close to Brahms and still found time to  tour extensively! – acknowledged as a virtuoso pianist.

So here’s to the  ‘only woman’ on the site –  (so far) Let’s make it a Long Play Selection. (approx. 25 minutes)

(* dig that horn!)

UPDATE: Clara is no longer the only female composer on the site. Go here for a comprehensive look at the female composers.

Clara Schumann


Drei Romanzen, Op. 22 (arr. for horn and piano): I. Andante

Drei Romanzen, Op. 22 (arr. for horn and piano): II. Allegre

Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17: III. Andante

Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17: IV. Allegretto

Romance in B minor