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Women Composers: Notes from the Musical Margins

“Try this test. Write down all the women composers you know of. No, don’t run away. Given the nature of this column, stick to contemporary classical. Too hard? OK, include anyone, past or present, who has written religious, symphonic, chamber, vocal, choral, operatic, electro-acoustic works. To make it simple, film and TV scores are allowed too. Still zero? You’re in distinguished company. The Guardian‘s 100 Most Inspiring Women this week, marking the 100th International Women’s Day, featured not one.

In a confined space, however, the panel chose from an even tinier breed, naming a female conductor (Marin Alsop) as the classical exemplar. Before you start huffing, this is only marginally lower than the percentage the BBC Proms manages most years, ranging from one out of 43 conductors in 1989 to a miserable one out of 63 in 2010 (according to a report by Women in Music). Prejudice? Misogyny? Lack of habit or confidence or education? It’s all these things; a different topic but not unrelated and impossible to ignore.”

Read the full article here.