Entertainment & Arts

Five forgotten female composers will be celebrated on BBC Radio 3

Image caption US musician Florence B Price is among the composers to receive belated recognition

"I once believed that I possessed creative talent," wrote German pianist Clara Schumann in the 19th Century, "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?"

But Schumann was wrong. There is a long history of female composers but they were often overlooked in the male-dominated world of classical music.

Now, BBC Radio 3 is hoping to reclaim some of those forgotten musicians.

Over the next year, the lost works of five composers will be resurrected as part of a project to shine a light on women's contribution to music.

Rescued from decades hidden in archives, libraries and private collections, the pieces will be premiered on Radio 3 to coincide with International Women's Day 2018.

The artists were chosen by a panel of academics and music scholars. They are as follows:

  • Florence B Price (1887-1953) - Born in Arkansas in 1887, Florence B Price became the first black woman in the US to be recognized as a symphonic composer. However, she died in poverty and was buried in an unmarked grave in Lincoln cemetery.
  • Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940) - A Russian pianist who taught Stravinsky, and studied under Anton Rubinstein.
  • Augusta Holmes (1847-1903) - A French-Irish writer of large-scale oratorios and operas. Her Ode Triomphale required a chorus of 900 and an orchestra of 300, and was performed four times during the Paris Exhibition in 1899.
  • Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868-1941) - One of the foremost European female composers of orchestral and chamber music in her day, Hermann wrote several large-scale orchestra works, including a symphonic fantasy on the Ibsen play Brand. Later in life, she won the professorship of composition at the Vienna Conservatoire.
  • Marianna Martines (1744-1813) - Taught piano by Haydn, the Austrian composer Martines was famous throughout Europe in her lifetime, but her works were largely forgotten after her death.

Radio 3 is also marking International Women's Day 2017 with 24 hours of programmes dedicated solely to female composers and musicians.

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