How Classical Music Advanced the Civil Rights Movement

Remembering Marian Anderson's landmark Met performance, 60 years later


Marian Anderson Acting On Stage
Marian Anderson acting on stage during the Metropolitan Opera production of Un Ballo in Maschera, New York City, January 8, 1955. Afro Newspaper—Gado/Getty Images

Anderson, fittingly, had a habit of rhetorically erasing her own significance by referring to herself as “one” — and she didn’t behave like the typical prima donna in her debut at the Met:
“I’m not quite sure it’s happening,” Contralto Anderson told friends and reporters [after the performance]. Apologizing for her jitters, she added: “A serious person, when beginning anything, is usually a little overanxious.” … As for the possibility of other roles at the Met, she said in her modest, impersonal way: “One is so involved in this one, no other has been thought about.”
Meanwhile, out in the packed house, it was the crowd that lifted the singer to hero status: “There were eight curtain calls. ‘Anderson! Anderson!’ chanted the standees,” TIME reported, “and men and women in the audience wept.”


Reposted from Time.com 



THE MUSIC MAN Turning children on to classical music

The Dr. Fuddle Music Scholarship has been officially established! This is the first step in moving forward with the goal of establishing tuition-free conservatories of music worldwide and The Dr. Fuddle Foundation for the Arts.


Pianist, musicologist and author Dr. Warren Woodruff of Buckhead is a man on a mission: to instill a new generation with a love of classical music. A teacher for the last 30 years, he spreads his message wherever he goes and volunteers to help students with extraordinary talent.

In 2016, Woodruff endowed The Dr. Fuddle Music Scholarship to the Atlanta Music Club. The award was named after the hero of his children’s novels. Woodruff was instrumental in raising funds to develop a music therapy program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), as well as helping the hospital’s Tower of Talent event raise more than $1 million.

“I’ve seen firsthand how transformative and healing classical music can be,” Woodruff says. “It gives children joy and carries them through tough times. The power of music is the most untapped resource on the planet.”

The Magic Piano, a play written by Woodruff, debuted in Atlanta in 1999 and was so well received that he expanded it into a fantasy novel and screenplay titled Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton. A sequel to the book, a feature film and toys will debut this year.

“In the story, children go to a magical land where the great composers live and learn how to solve real world problems through music and nonviolence,” Woodruff says. 



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BY: Mickey Goodman
Photo: Tim Wilkerson Photography

Classical Music as Medicine

Instrumental healing: Tustin violinist turns lifelong hobby into music therapy for hospital patients – Orange County Register

One recent study uses classical music as a treatment for high blood pressure. Researchers took 90 men and women aged 40-74, and divided them into three groups. One group listened to music on a regular basis; another group took part in something called laughter yoga (where you force yourself to laugh until it starts to feel natural) while the third group served as a control, receiving neither music nor laughter.

At the end of the study, both the classical music group and the laughing group had lower blood pressure. And here’s the really good news: the difference was about the same as it would be if you lost 10 pounds or cut salt out of your diet (and I know what I’d rather do!)


Dr. Joanne Loewy uses live music during general anesthesia to sedate a patient before surgery

Another study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Music and Medicine, looked at recovery times for procedures such as hip or knee surgery. People in the study listened to music for at least 4 hours a day, with a control group who didn’t listen to any music.

The result? People who got the dose of music along with their other post-op medications recovered more quickly. Specifically, the music group tested significantly higher in the area of confusion and mental cognition than the control group. Given that reduced confusion and more cognition can equal less time in hospital, this musical study could have very real implications for health care.

Meanwhile, a doctor in Boston is investigating the connections between classical music and surgery.

Dr Claudius Conrad grew up studying music; he became quite an accomplished pianist before he turned to medicine. Now that he’s a surgeon, he sometimes listens to recordings of himself playing Mozart during operations. Conrad says there’s a clear connection: “In surgery, you do something that is comparable to a concert,” he says,” and like a concert situation, in surgery you want to do the most beautiful work you can under the most stress.”


Dr. Claudius Conrad has studied how the mechanisms of Mozart’s music seemed to ease the pain of some patients. Credit C.J. Gunther for The New York Times

Finally, here’s an inspiring story from an orchestra in England. The Royal Liverpool Orchestra has won a very special award; not a Grammy or a Gramophone Award, but a special commendation for “Innovative and Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Arts and Health Practice” from the Royal Society for Public Health. The commendation celebrates the orchestra’s  Musician in Residence Program.



Members of the Royal Liverpool Orchestra bring their instruments into mental health wards to play for people with problems like depression, dementia, or brain injuries. From what the patients and staff say, there’s a very real benefit. Just having a symphony musician come and play for them makes people feel special. If there’s a chance to play, or sing along, that’s even better, helping make patients feel less isolated, more relaxed and confident, taking them outside their world of mental illness.

As the judging panel put it, “The Musician in Residence program is great value for money and it works. It aids recovery… (and) it would not be possible without the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and some very talented musicians.”

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The Composer and his Muse: Johannes Brahms and Soprano Agathe von Siebol



A couple of years before he had started composing the 1st String Sextet, Brahms was still living in his hometown of Hamburg in 1858 when a friend invited him to come check out Göttingen, a college town about 170 miles south. This friend, Julius Otto Grimm, composer, teacher and music director of the local choral society, the Cäcilienverein (Cecelia Club), wrote to him, “If it would please you to have a few good voices lodged in very lovely girls, sing for you, they will take pleasure in being at your disposal. Come quickly!” Odd that Brahms had hesitated, at first.

So, in the midst of working on a serenade originally for a small group of strings and winds, he did so reluctantly, even if it was part of a holiday with Clara Schumann, her five youngest children, her half-brother, composer Woldemar Bargiel and violinist Joseph Joachim. It didn’t, however, take Brahms long to succumb to the charms of the town and especially some of the young ladies in town – one soprano named Agathe von Siebold, in particular.

In addition to having long dark hair, a lush figure, a fondness for practical jokes and a voice that Joachim likened to an Amati violin, Agathe (left) was also studying composition with Julius Grimm who once berated her for some sloppy counterpoint exercises. When Brahms agreed to play a trick on his friend, he wrote out her assignment himself which she duly handed in as her own. Grimm exploded over this “swinish mess” and when Agathe asked “well, what if Johannes had written it,” he said it would be even worse. Here, Brahms had actually screwed it up on purpose, playing a joke on both of them.

At the end of this extended vacation, Brahms returned to Detmold, about 30 miles to the northwest as the crow flies, where he was employed part of the year as a “court musician,” performing with the orchestra there and teaching music to the family of Prince Leopold III. In addition to organizing chamber music concerts, he also conducted a women’s choir for whom he wrote numerous short choral works.

Visiting Göttingen again in 1859, he and Agathe continued their friendship and apparently became secretly engaged. According to his friends, they seemed perfectly happy with each other.

This quote from a memoir Agathe von Siebold

I think I may say that from that time until the present, a golden light has been cast on my life, and that even now, in my late old age, something of the radiance of that unforgettable time has remained.  I loved Johannes Brahms very much, and for a short time, he loved me.

Then he left for two performances of his finally completed D Minor Piano Concerto which was neither a success nor a failure in Hannover but which was frostily received in Leipzig five days later. After a long silence, perhaps three pairs of hands bothered to applaud before the hissing began. Critics called it “banal and horrid.”





By then, returning to see Agathe, Brahms suffered what today would be called “a fear of commitment.” When he wrote to her, "I love you! I must see you again! But I cannot wear fetters! Write me whether I may come back to fold you in my arms, to kiss you, to tell you that I love you!" she responded by breaking off the engagement.

To his friends, Brahms would admit to “playing the scoundrel” to Agathe. Over a decade later, he recalled those days, how he would like to have married but when his music was hissed in the concert hall and so icily received, he realized while this was something he himself could tolerate, returning alone to his room,

“...if, in such moments, I had had to meet the anxious, questioning eyes of a wife with the words ‘another failure’ – I could not have borne that! For a woman may love an artist… ever so much… and if she had wanted to comfort me – a wife to pity her husband for his lack of success – ach! I can’t stand to think what a hell that would have been.”

During the first months in Göttingen , he wrote several songs for Agathe to sing, many of them using a musical motif based on her name spelled out in certain available notes.

In the months following his break-up with Agathe, Brahms composed more songs, still occasionally employing the “Agathe Motive” but setting it to words about parting and lost love.

Brahms would use this “Agathe Motive” again in the 2nd String Sextet which he completed a few years after he and Agathe von Siebold parted ways.

Moving ahead a few years, Brahms had completed two new piano quartets and three versions of his Piano Quintet, before writing to his Göttingen friend Julius Grimm once again, asking how things were “in all the houses where one used to go so happily… of that house and gate – ” which he didn’t need to explain was the house where Agathe von Siebold lived with her father.

Grimm told him “the old Professor had died three years ago” and Agathe had taken a job the past year as a governess in Ireland where she teaches music and German to the daughters of a rich young English family. She had to get away, he said, from “the shadowed pages of her life… what a gloomy lot is that of a girl alone.”

Brahms returned to Göttingen and stood by that ruined gate, looking at the empty house (such images typical of the lovelorn poetry of the Romantic Age). In September, he composed the devastated and exalted songs of Op. 32 which included the lines “I would like to stop living, to perish instantly, and yet I would like to live for you, with you, and never die.”





That same month, he began the first movement of the 2nd String Sextet. The second movement was based on a Baroque-like gavotte he’d written (part of a collection of tongue-in-cheek dances in the early-1850s) contrasting with a jocose middle section. The original sketch of the slow movement’s variations was written in 1855 and the overall sound is basically “wandering, empty, tragic.” The finale sounds like it might be a proper scherzo with a warm contrasting section with a bit of a dance to it: perhaps a “last dance, at the end of an affair,” as Swafford describes it.




The opening is a gem of a motive – This is Agathe’s Motive - and at its most obvious, climactic point, it is repeated five times. Yet this time, there is another note inserted within the motive – a D (see above) – which helps spell out the word “adé” or “Adieux, Farewell” in the inner voices. One could even sing "Agathe, adé" to this fragment of a melody.

Brahms is certainly saying farewell to Agathe, taking his leave, musically if not emotionally. Yet in the very first song he wrote for her – Op.14 No. 1 of 1858 – this “adé” motive appears when the night-watchman sounds his horn as the lovers part.




We may think of this as purely abstract music with no literary allusions or suggestions of telling a story, the sort of thing Liszt and the New German School espoused. But even Brahms must have had something on his mind, here, when he was writing this – a young girl who used to sing his songs for him and with whom he once contemplated marriage.

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Johannes Brahms: 15 facts about the great composer


Johannes Brahms is one of the Romantic period's most revered and popular composers - but how much do you really know? Here are 15 essential facts about the great man. 




1. Brahms is born!

Johannes Brahms was born on May 7th 1833 in Hamburg, Germany.
jakob brahms, Brahms' father


2. Son to a musical spare man



Brahms' father, Jokob (pictured), found employment as a jobbing musician, mostly getting work from playing the double bass and the French horn.


3. Earning a crust



The young Brahms was forced to play the piano in dance halls to contribute to the family's income as they were so poor.


4. Embarrassing early compositions?

An early starter, Brahms began composing when he was just 11. However, when he was older, he found them a bit embarrassing and destroyed the majority of them.


5. Sleeping on the job



Brahms apparently upset his host when he saw Liszt perform his own Sonata in B Minor at the Court of Weimar. Claiming that he was exhausted from traveling, Brahms fell asleep while the work was being played.



6. New Paths



Robert Schumann was so impressed with Brahms' talent when they met that he was inspired to write an essay entitled 'Neue Bahnen' ('New Paths') which gave Brahms a lot of publicity.



7. Gypsy influence

Brahms met a Hungarian refugee and violinist by the name of Eduard Remenyi (left) in 1850, and was introduced to a whole range of folk and gypsy music that massively influenced his composing style.


8. An epic first symphony

Although Brahms began composing his first symphony in 1854, it wasn't premiered until November 1876, 22 years later. The whole piece underwent severe edits until he was completely happy with it.


 

9. A shoulder to cry on



When Schumann died in 1856, Brahms immediately went to Düsseldorf to be with Schumann's wife, Clara. It's unclear exactly what kind of relationship the two had, but they destroyed a large amount of their letters to each other, possibly suggesting that they had something to hide…



10. The War of the Romantics

The so-called War of the Romantics was basically a musical argument between composers like Wagner and Liszt, who represented a more radical approach to music, and more conservative artists like Brahms and Clara Schumann. As a result, Brahms has always been seen as something of an old-fashioned composer, despite still being extremely popular today.



11. An outdoor type

Brahms was very much an outdoors-y sort. When he wasn't traveling around Europe for concert tours, he was fond of traveling to the hills of Italy for walking holidays and to retreat for solitary composing.



12. Inspired by grief

When his mother died in 1865, Brahms was overcome with grief. It is speculated that this led him to compose his German Requiem, one of the most celebrated works from his career. However, the premiere of the piece was a disaster - the timpanist misread the dynamics as 'ff' (very loud) instead of 'pf' (quiet) and drowned the other musicians out.



 
13. Wagner - not a fan



Perhaps due to their musical opposition to one another, Wagner (pictured) and Brahms weren't exactly best friends when they met in Vienna in 1864, after Brahms moved there to direct the Vienna Singakademie. Wagner later attacked Brahms in the press.


14. Early retirement?

When he was 57, Brahms announced that he was finished with composing. However, he was clearly unable to stop his creativity - he produced some incredible late-period works, especially for the clarinet, like his Clarinet Sonatas, Trio and Quintet.





 

15. Death



Brahms died of either pancreatic or liver cancer (evidence is unclear) on April 3rd 1897. The British composer Hubert Parry (pictured) composed a musical tribute to him, his Elegy for Brahms, in the same year.


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How Music Improves the Lives of Children


As research acknowledges the benefits that music brings to children and teens, a moral dilemma exists in American communities. Many schools can no longer afford to offer music programs for children. For those living in poverty, the access to music training is often nonexistent. Will we become a nation where only the wealthy can afford music lessons for youth? Or will we use the power of music to increase children's success in life and raise them out of poverty?

Americans are beginning to take action.  Last year, one community took on a challenging mission, to bring classical music training to children in a migrant farming area of California.  Few of the children's families spoke English, and their community had been designated a High Intensity Gang Area. The new program, Youth Orchestra Salinas (YOSAL), is a collaborative partnership of community leaders.  The program is demanding. Children attend lessons and group practice five days a week, three hours each day.  Participation is voluntary and free for all students. In less than a year, more than 80 children became regular participants. Already, improvements in school attendance and achievement are being noted.



El Sistema, the program on which YOSAL is based, began more than 35 years ago in a parking garage in Venezuela by Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu. Since its meager beginnings, El Sistema has grown to include many "nucleo" orchestras that now teach ensemble music to 300,000 of Venezuela's poorest children, demonstrating how music can positively change the lives of a nation's youth and the communities to which they belong.

Over three decades ago in Venezuela one man dreamed of a better world for children living in poverty: “give children musical instruments and they will never carry a gun: teach them to play classical orchestra music and they will learn how to live a meaningful life. “

That man was Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu. Dr. Abreu gathered 11 children in a parking garage in Caracas, Venezuela to play classical music. The organization and its many nuclei orchestras now teach ensemble music to 300,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children, demonstrating how family-school-community partnerships in the arts can positively change the lives of a nation’s youth and the communities to which they belong.





The Emotional Power of Music


Stevie Wonder sang, "Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand...." Music is like a language, all on its own, with or without words. Music has been described as "the language of the soul".

Music springs from the deepest emotions within the soul, and with or without lyrics, music conveys a message, deepest feelings and emotions. It is a world beyond our world. It is a reality, at the same time, a fantasy.

Of course, the musical experience goes beyond simply listening to it; as an exercise in creativity and as a social activity, music involves considerable emotional and cognitive investment, whether it be composing music or performing it. Despite its widespread presence and importance in many cultures, music's effects on the human mind are only just beginning to be understood.

The search for answers into music’s impact on the human mind has attracted scholars and researchers from a wide array of disciplines, including computer science, musicology, anthropology, and psychology. From its effects on depression and social attitudes, to research on its benefits in education, music psychology is an exciting exploration of the magic that is music, and its influence on the mystery that is the human mind.


Given the amazing ability of music to express the complex emotions of human beings, it is not surprising that music plays an important role in the creation and maintenance of social groups and subcultures. Throughout history, people with common goals, ideas and belief have bonded together, and the music of this subculture is an important rallying point for them, and often expresses their beliefs.

Examples are too numerous to mention, but the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s inspired many anthems of freedom that will be forever associated with it, such as "We Shall Overcome" and "Blowing in the Wind". The hippie movement of that same decade revivified interest in folk music, as young people harkened back to a more innocent time, and the intense grooves and loudness of rock 'n' roll music echoed a younger generation’s desire to be heard and seen.


Music's Effect on Emotions, Mood, Mood Disorders, Transmitting Ideas and Ideals



Research has shown that music has a very strong influence on moods and emotions. Music can certainly change our current emotional state, create different trains of thought, and even convey ideas to its listeners. This is true for people of all ages and walks of life.

Our moods are deeply affected by the type, intensity and amount of music we listen to. People with volatile temperaments often become calmer after listening to relaxing music. Conversely, more phlegmatic people can be energized by upbeat music. For example, pop music is used in exercise classes to maintain energy flow and interest. The motivational force of influence of music on mood cannot be overstated.

Music can also make us sad, or even depressed. Depending on the emotional state of the listener or composer, music can even be a negative influence. It is interesting to note that many famous composers showed an enormous range of emotions. The composer Ludwig Van Beethoven was known to pound the piano so passionately that he broke its strings! Genius personalities such as Beethoven often show intense emotional sensitivity, and one might speculate that this great emotional range is needed to compose great music.

The correlation between creativity and bipolar disorder (artists, musicians, and writers being more likely to have bipolar disorder) is a further illustration of the fascinating link between music and human emotions. The psychology of music is deeply emotional. We internalize what we listen to, allowing the emotions of the composer and the musicians to become our own, thus establishing a connection with the composer and performers.

Both the lyrics and the music itself are involved in this bonding process. The more we listen to a piece, the more we begin to internalize and identify with it.

As this process of listening to and identifying



http://www.winmentalhealth.com/music_psychology.php

Is the Composer of Adagio in G Minor Tomaso Albinoni or Remo Giazotto?


The Adagio in G Minor for Organ and Strings has been popularly attributed to Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751), a Venetian baroque composer who wrote at least 81 operas as well as many instrumental works.  Nine collections of his works were published during his lifetime, and his works were favorably compared to his contemporaries Vivaldi and Corelli.
This hauntingly beautiful piece of music has been in the soundtrack of at least 20 movies (including Dragonslayer, Rollerball, Flashdance and Gallipoli), many popular TV shows, and throughout the years has been rendered by at least 10 modern pop and rock groups.







Unfortunately, much of his music was lost during the bombing of Dresden in 1945. Since then many musicologists have had to reconstruct his lost music from fragments of it found in Dresden archives. 

Musicologist, music critic and composer Remo Giazotto was trying to systematically catalogue Albinoni's works, and asked the Saxon State Library of Dresden to send him the scraps of what was left of Albonini's “Trio Sonata”. 
From only the bassline found in the slow part of the trio and a few fragments of melody, Giazotto magically constructed the Adagio. He published it in 1958, attributing it to Albinoni. 

Later, in 1965, he claimed full credit for the work. Today there is still controversy on who to give credit to. I certainly think that Giazotto deserves at least partial credit, if not full, since he had so little to work with. Ironically, this is the piece that Albinoni is most famous for. 


Richard Gill on The Value of Music Education


Music educator Richard Gill argues the case for igniting the imagination through music and for making our own music. In this talk, he leads the TEDxSydney audience through some surprising illustrations of the relationship between music and our imagination.

Happy Birthday Joseph Haydn



Born on March 31, 1732 in Rohrau, Austria, Franz Joseph Haydn's father was a wheelwright, his mother a former cook. The second child of his parents, Haydn began to display musical talent early on in life, wanting to give him the training he needed, his parents agreed to let their cousin, a principal and choirmaster in Hainburg, take Haydn to the school at age six.

Haydn's experience in Hainburg was good for his musical abilities, but bad for his soul. The young boy was often left without much to eat during his time there, and was not given the same love he might have received from his parents.  When the musical director of a church in Vienna offered to take Haydn as a chorister at age eight, his parents accepted.

Haydn spent nine years at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, but when his voice changed, he was expelled from the school. Haydn began doing odd jobs to make money, and taught himself music theory, eventually he worked his way up to becoming the musical director for count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin. It was in this position that he composed his first symphony.


Haydn's wife Anna. Unauthenticated miniature attributed to Ludwig Guttenbrunn (Burgenländisches Landesmuseum)

In 1760 he married Maria Anna Aloisia Appolonia Keller, they never had children. A year later, Haydn became assistant music director for Esterhazy family, his kindness to the staff and good nature here earned him the title "Papa" by many of the musicians and later earned him the post of musical director.


A man plays a historic piano behind a bust of Austrian composer Joseph Haydn in the "Haydn house" in Vienna January 28, 2009. Haydn spent his last twelve years in this house in Vienna's sixth district, composing important late works including "Die Schoepfung" (The Creation) and "Die Vier Jahreszeiten" (The Seasons), where he died in 1809 at the age of 77.


  
The death mask of Austrian composer Joseph Haydn is displayed in the "Haydn house" in Vienna January 28, 2009.



The Composer and his Muse: J.S. Bach and Anna Magdalena Bach



Anna Magdalena Bach was the second wife of composer J.S. Bach, singer and chamber musician. She was born into a musical family. Little is known of her career as a vocalist but she certainly knew J.S. Bach professionally at Köthen, where he was Kapellmeister from 1717. They married in December 1721, a year and a half after the death of the composer's first wife and settled in Leipzig in 1723. The couple had 13 children, six of whom lived to adulthood, including future composers Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach and Johann Christian Bach  (later known as "The London Bach").

Portrait of Bach and his children
Anna Magdalena Bach was an invaluable aide to J.S. Bach's duties as Kantor of Leipzig, copying and transcribing the reams of music he wrote for the city's five major churches; a number of his manuscripts exist only in her hand. J.S. Bach expressed his gratitude by dedicating several keyboard and chamber pieces to her, including the famous collection "The Little Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach" (two volumes, 1722 and 1725), and organized informal concerts at their home so she could have a performing outlet.



Anna Magdalena Bach: a forgotten genius?

Martin Jarvis, professor of music at Charles Darwin University in Australia, claims some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s best-loved works were actually written by his wife. He also discovered that the only complete manuscript from the time for the Cello Suites was a manuscript in the hand of Anna Magdalena, and that the original manuscript in the hand of Johann Sebastian had vanished.

Prof Jarvis claims that there is musical evidence to prove that the Cello Suites - whose exact date of composition has never been established - were not written by Bach.

 

Prof Jarvis believes that Anna Magdalena also had a hand in composing the aria from the Goldberg Variations, and said it was highly likely that she composed the first prelude of the Well-tempered Klavier Book I.

Stephen Rose, a lecturer in music at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: "It is plausible that she corrected, refined and revised many of his compositions, although there is not enough evidence to show that she single-handedly composed the Cello Suites."

When J.S. Bach died in 1750, J.S. Bach left no will and his modest estate was evenly split between Anna Magdalena Bach and the nine surviving children from both marriages. If the subsequent neglect of J.S. Bach's memory reflects scant credit on the Leipzig establishment, then the treatment of his widow reflects none at all.

In 1751, church officials evicted Anna from the Kantor's quarters she had called home for nearly 30 years, and she spent the rest of her life scraping by on charity. Why her able-bodied children did nothing to alleviate her poverty is not known. She died at 58 in an almshouse and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave at Leipzig's Johanniskirche (St. John's Church), where her husband had been laid to rest a decade before.

The Johanniskirche
J.S. Bach's forgotten grave was discovered during renovation of the church in 1894, but Anna Magdalena's was not and is now irretrievably lost - the Johanniskirche was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II. In the 1960's historians began to re-examine the role Anna played in J.S. Bach's life and art, and today there are revisionists who claim she was the actual composer of some of his late music.

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Celebrating Great Women Composers: Women's History Month


Marianna Martines (1744-1812) was born in Vienna into rarefied circumstances. The poet Pietro Metastasio lived with her family, and she had the opportunity to study keyboard with Joseph Hayden and composition with Nicola Porpora, both of whom lived in her apartment building. While still a child she began performing for the Imperial court as a singer and keyboard artist, and was soon known throughout Europe not only as a performer, but also as a classical composer. Her surviving works include masses, motets, oratorios, cantatas, concertos and one symphony.






Teresa Carreño (1853-1917)

This Venezuelan pianist, singer and composer performed for Abraham Lincoln at the White House in 1863 and at several of Henry Wood's promenade concerts. She composed at least 40 works for piano, two for voice and piano, two for choir and orchestra, and two pieces of chamber music. Her song 'Tendeur' was a hit in her time. Remarkably, a crater on Venus is named after her.









Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)

Chaminade was composing from an early age, even playing some of her music to Georges Bizet when she was eight. She wrote mostly pieces for piano and salon songs, which were hugely popular in America. She composed a Konzertstück for piano, the ballet music to 'Callirhoé' and other orchestral works. The composer Ambroise Thomas once said of her, 'This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.'







Amy Beach (1867-1944)

America's first successful woman composer, Amy Beach was an accomplished pianist who agreed, after her marriage, to limit her piano performances to one charity recital a year. After her husband died, she toured Europe as a pianist, playing her own compositions to great acclaim. Her music is mainly in the Romantic style, although in her later works she experimented with more exotic harmonies and techniques. Her most famous works include the Mass in E-flat major and the Gaelic Symphony.



Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)

Louise Farrenc received piano lessons from masters such as Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Following her marriage, she interrupted her studies to play concerts with her husband, the flautist Aristide Farrenc. Despite her brilliance as a performer and composer, she was paid less than her male counterparts for nearly a decade. Only after the triumphant premiere of her Nonet for wind and strings - in which the violinist Joseph Joachim took part -did she demand and receive equal pay.






Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847)

Sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny composed more than 460 works, including a piano trio and several books of piano pieces and songs. A number of her works were originally published under Felix's name. Her piano works are often in the style of songs and carry the title, ‘Song without Words.’ This style of piece was successfully developed by Felix, though some assert that Fanny preceded him in the genre.

Women Firsts in Classical Music: Women's History Month

It used to be considered proper for a young woman in upper society to attain proficiency on a classical instrument, usually the piano, harp, classical guitar, or voice. Women were not trained as professionals, however, because it was considered immodest for a woman to perform in public. But eventually some women broke through convention and asserted themselves in the world of classical music.

One of the earliest women to perform professionally as a pianist was Maria Theresia Paradis (1759-1824).

Her father was a court official in Vienna. She went blind as a small child, although treatment by Dr. Anton Mesmer was improving her vision. The treatment was abandoned when it was decided that she would lose her disability pension if she recovered her sight.

She was performing regularly by age 16 and spent much of the next decade in touring Europe to great success. Her repertoire included 60 concertos, including works she commissioned from Salieri, Mozart and Haydn.



She gradually abandoned performing in favor of composition, writing five operas, three cantatas and numerous piano works. In later years she turned to teaching. She may be largely unknown today, but she certainly worked at a professional level comparable to male pianist-composers except for the few top geniuses, such as Mozart.

Historical speculation was that Mozart may have written his Piano Concerto No. 18 in B flat major for Maria Theresia von Paradis.

Mozart could have sent the concerto to Paris, and it would have been forwarded to von Paradis in London, where it was possible that she performed the work in March 1785.







The first woman to break the bonds of convention and venture to play the violin in public was Mrs. Sarah Ottey.

Ottey played the violin in concerts as early as 1721, in England.’ Mrs. Sarah Ottey, was an accomplished musician, since she performed publicly upon the harpsichord and bass viol as well as upon the violin.




American Clara Baur was the first woman to found a conservatory, the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music, in 1867.

Baur opened the first conservatory in Ohio on December 2, 1867 in rented rooms on West Seventh Street. She later moved to a building on the corner of Vine and Eighth Streets - a much bigger location in which Baur was able to offer room and board for out of town students. From here, her conservatory moved to the corner of Fourth and Lawrence, then to Oak Street, and is currently part of the University of Cincinnati and is known as CCM.




In 1936, Nadia Boulanger conducted a concert with the London Philharmonic, the first woman to do so.

In 1939 Nadia Boulanger was asked what it was like to be the first woman to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world première of Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks. She replied "Well, I have been a woman for 50 years now and have recovered from my initial astonishment."

 A French composer, conductor, and teacher who taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century as well as leading living composers and musicians.





Among her students were those who became leading composers, soloists, arrangers and conductors, including Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Quincy Jones, John Eliot Gardiner, Elliott Carter, Dinu Lipatti, Igor Markevitch, Virgil Thomson, David Diamond, İdil Biret, Daniel Barenboim, Philip Glass and Astor Piazzolla. She also performed as a pianist and organist.

As a long-standing friend of the family (and officially as chapel-master to the Prince of Monaco), Nadia Boulanger was asked to organize the music for the wedding of Prince Rainier of Monaco and the American actress, Grace Kelly, in 1956







Marin Alsop made history when she became the first female to conduct a major US symphony orchestra when appointed to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Six years later she made history again when she became the first ever woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms.

Thomas Jefferson as a Violinist and Advocate for Music Education



Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, was also a violinist and strong advocate for music education. Family and holiday gatherings, solo performances, or as a way to have some time alone, the violin was important to him throughout his life.

His violin studies as a young man paid off during his courtship of his future wife, Martha Skelton. While she sang and played the harpsichord at parties, he would often join in, playing his violin and singing. Christmas celebrations at the White House and in his home, Monticello, included him playing the violin for family and guests.

According to Jefferson family tradition, as recorded by biographer Henry S. Randall, Jefferson’s musical ability dispelled the hopes of other suitors:

Two of Mr. Jefferson's rivals happened to meet on Mrs. Skelton's door-stone. They were shown into a room from which they heard her harpsichord and voice, accompanied by Mr. Jefferson's violin and voice, in the passages of a touching song. They listened for a stanza or two. Whether something in the words, or in the tones of the singers appeared suggestive to them, tradition does not say, but it does state that they took their hats and retired, to return no more on the same errand!

Jefferson and Martha Skelton were wed on January 1, 1772.


When time permitted, Jefferson played at least three hours a day. While he was a law student, he gave weekly concerts with other musicians. His music library at his home, Monticello, contained violin works by Corelli, Handel, Vivaldi, and other composers. His selected works by Corelli required an advanced level of skill due to advanced bowings and techniques for the left hand. He also had a violin technique book by Francesco Geminiani (1680-1762), The Art of Playing on the Violin, which further indicated his level of proficiency.


Jefferson’s Music Technique Book




Francesco Geminiani (1680–1762). Rules for Playing in a True Taste on the Violin German, Flute, Violoncello, and Harpsicord. . . .  London: J. Johnson, 1751. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (S. 4255) (40.00.00)

Music, according to Jefferson, was his “favorite passion” and the violin his preferred instrument. Jefferson was schooled in music at an early age and cultivated his love of music throughout his life. As an accomplished violinist and music aficionado, Jefferson owned four violins, including a so-called “kit,” an instrument small enough to fit neatly into a coat pocket. He was known to take his kit along on his travels to practice while away.

The instrument's body is very small, but its fingerboard is made long relative to the instrument's overall size in order to preserve as much of the instrument's melodic range as possible.

Many violinists in the eighteenth century used kits because of their portability. Thomas Jefferson owned at least two kits.

At home, he could play his other instruments as well as consult his personal copies of contemporary musical treatises such as this one by Francesco Geminiani. Jefferson rarely wrote in his books, but this book includes Jefferson’s inscription of Charles Burney’s discussion of violin technique.

Jefferson insisted that his daughters and granddaughters learn to play the violin. He hired Frances Alberti, an Italian immigrant, as a music tutor. Jefferson felt that a music education was “invaluable,” especially pertaining to young women, and that it provided “recreation” and “respite” from the concerns of the day, which would last through the rest of one’s life.

Monticello has several instruments on display that reflect the Jefferson household. In addition to violins, daughter, Martha, played harpsichord, and his other daughter, Maria, played guitar. He encouraged them not to neglect their music.



A violin owned by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States

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