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Seven Great Female Composers

For Women's History Month, a score of composers.
Video | March 2, 2017 | By Jonathan Shipley


In celebration of Women's History Month, let's look back at some of the greatest female classical music composers.


Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)

One of the most prolific composers in her lifetime, man or woman, she wrote songs for soporano singers. The songs were unique at the time for they were mostly secular in nature.


Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

One of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, she was also a composer (as was her husband, Robert Schumann). Her concert career lasted 61 years and she was the first to introduce the world to the music of Johannes Brahms.


Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)

In her own lifetime, the French woman had a considerable repulation as performer, teacher and composer. Her early work focused on piano pieces. She then took to chamber music. 


Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847)

Fanny composed over 460 pieces of music. A number of her songs were originally published under her brother's name. Her brother was Felix Mendelssohn.


Teresa Carreno (1853-1917)

A Venezuelan pianist, singer, composer and conducter, she performed for Abraham Lincoln at the White House in 1863. 


Amy Beach (1867-1944)

Beach was the first successful American female composer of large scale Western classical music. A child prodigy, she could sing 40 songs accurately, at the age of one. After taking formal piano lessons, she wrote symphonies, choral works, chamber music and more. 


Ethel Smyth (1858 - 1944)

An English composer, she was a leading member of the women's suffrage movement. Her compositions include songs, works for piano, chamber music, orchestral work, choral works, and operas. She is the first female composer to be awarded a damehood. Her "The March of the Women" became the anthem of women's suffrage. 

For some idea as to what women are composing today, here's a good place to start.