Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel was the sister of famous composer Felix Mendelssohn. Although both Fanny and her brother were talented pianists and composers, their father did not think it was proper for Fanny to have a career because she was a women. However, she still composed and performed often, and later married a man who encouraged her to keep composing. This piece is from a collection of pieces she wrote called “Songs Without Words.” If this song did have words, what do you think it would be about? (Use worksheet 1 & worksheet 2)
Written by: Chen Yi
Performed by: Chanticleer
Welcome to our Lifelong Listening Center!
In celebration of Women's History Month, this new set of listening materials is focused on female composers. We will look at examples of compositions by women from each of the time periods in music history, and also a piece by a living composer!
Piano Concerto in A major, movement 1
Written By: Marianna Martines
Performers: Judith Valerie Engel, piano
and Orchestra Students of Mozarteum Salzburg
Pensaci ben mio core
Written by: Barbara Strozzi
Performed by: Jole De Baerdemaeker, soprano
& Francesco Olivero, theorbo
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How to earn
Using the content in the Listening Center, complete the Listening Worksheets and
discuss your work with
Hand in your completed worksheets to the front desk.
Each worksheet is worth
Students will get
back and achievements
will be recognized at
the annual recital.
Which worksheets should
I be using?
use worksheets #1 and #2
use with worksheet #3
use with worksheet #4
use with worksheet #5
Marianna Martines never had a formal job in music (mostly because women could not during her time), but she was recognized during her lifetime as a talented harpsichord player, singer, and composer. She also had some very famous friends such as Haydn, Mozart, and the Italian poet, Metastasio. She actually wrote the only symphony composed by a women during the classical era! In this piece you can see that she must have been a very accomplished keyboard player as well as composer.
Song without Words Op. 8 no. 2
Written By: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Performed by: Samantha Angstman, piano
Amy Beach was a New Englander! She grew up in New Hampshire and later moved to Boston. She is also unique because she received all of her musical training here in the United States (many composers during her time went to Europe to study). Although Beach did have a career in music, she often ran into prejudice because she was a women. Nevertheless, people recognized her extreme talent and creativity. Her pieces were performed by major orchestras like the Boston Symphony and she was part of a group of prolific composers during her time called the “Boston Six”, of which she was the only women and the youngest. Beach was also a very talented pianist, although she rarely performed as an adult. Notice the elaborate piano part in this piece.
Today, women are able to have careers in music alongside men. Chen Yi is a very successful composer who is still alive and working today. She studied in both China and the United States and loves to blend the traditions of Chinese music with western classical music. In this unique piece, she uses vocal sound effects to imitate nature sounds that you would hear in the springtime. Maybe if we listen to this enough it will soon start to feel like spring!
Trio, movement 1
Written by: Amy Beach
Performed by: Emily Barkakati, violin,
Martin Torch-Ishii, cello,
Matthew Thompson, piano
During the baroque era, women were not allowed to work as professional musicians. However, Barbara Strozzi still received excellent musical training and later went on to publish some of her compositions. She was a gifted singer, so she wrote many pieces for voice like this one. Notice that the singer is accompanied by a special instrument called the theorbo. Instruments during the baroque era were different than instruments we have today.