In music there is no difficulty in summoning up the names of female performers and comparing them favourably with their male counterparts but does the same apply to female composers? There seems to be no lack of female writers and artists but most of us would be struggling to name all but a few female classical composers. Why is this?
It may be that potential female composers found it difficult amidst the views and prejudices that shaped their role in society. Perhaps the “storm and stress” image of the composer struggling to create his art, such as with Beethoven, was at odds with what were perceived to be feminine characteristics. Nevertheless, works by female composers exist, though it may take some time and effort to find and attribute them. This was demonstrated by pianist and writer Sandra Mogensen, who gave an expert and expressive recital of twenty piano pieces by thirteen female composers. Sandra hails from Canada and is currently studying in Copenhagen. Her latest publication is an album entitled En Pleine Lumiére or ‘In Full Light.’ The music of Greig is also an abiding interest. Copies of two of her CDs were available for sale (and can be ordered from www.sandramogensen.com). In her recital, Sandra gave interesting anecdotes about the composers and their musical development. They included Clara Schumann, Cécile Chaminade, Agathe Backer Grøndahl, Helen Hopekirk, Luise Adolpha Le Beau, Sofie Mentor, Mélanie Bonis, Germaine Tailleferre, Rosy Wertheim, Amy Beach, Marion Bauer and Marguerite Canal. All of these were born in the 19th Century, the last dying in 1978.
In a generous offering to Inverurie Music, Sandra gave the house concert free as a fund-raiser for its Award Scheme for local academy pupils. About thirty members and guests came to the house and were treated to delicious hospitality by Denys Wheatley and Jean Fletcher, to whom thanks are due for the arrangements.
28th January 2020