Women Composers: A Graded Anthology

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Hot on the heels of Karen Marshall’s lovingly curated HerStory from Faber Music, which I recently reviewed here, Schott Music bring us three brilliantly compiled and vividly presented collections of music by neglected female composers past and present.

Melanie Spanswick’s Women Composers: A Graded Anthology is equally as groundbreaking, and being a larger series these books offer space to a wider and more diverse range of repertoire, particularly in their inclusion of playful jazz and 20th century piano works.

It is interesting to note that of the 30 works in Marshall’s book and the 52 more here, not only are there no actual duplicates, but few of the composers themselves appear twice, an extraordinary confirmation (were it needed) that the pool of neglected music by female composers is a deep one indeed.

So let’s cast an eye over Spanswick’s series…

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Kashperova: In the Midst of Nature

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If you haven’t previously encountered the music of Russian composer Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940), be kind to yourself: until recently, her name was known only as Stravinsky’s piano teacher (whom he highly regarded), her own rich musical output entirely forgotten.

Happily the situation is changing, thanks to the work of Dr. Graham Griffiths, whose research has led to a Kashperova Edition now being published by Boosey & Hawkes. Recently added, Griffiths now brings us her delightful solo piano suite, In the Midst of Nature

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Piano Music of Amy Beach

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American composer Amy Beach’s significant contribution to the solo piano repertoire is finally beginning to receive the recognition and popularity it rightly deserves.

Beach (1867-1944) remained a hugely committed and prolific composer, even though much of her output received little attention in the first half of her career.

Her music is avowedly conservative, doing little to advance on the language of the early Romantic era composers, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt. And yet there is certainly a timelessness to its appeal that continues to speak to audiences and connect with players.

Hal Leonard’s 2013 publication Piano Music of Amy Beach offers an enticing introduction to this important composer’s work, and has recently been reprinted (in part because it is a core text for America’s National Federation of Music Clubs Junior Festivals programme for 2020-24).

The collection offers ten intermediate to advanced solo pieces selected from across Beach’s long career by Gail Smith. Let’s take a look…

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The Piano Music of Otilie Suková

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Otilie Suková was the daughter of Antonín Dvořák and the wife of Josef Suk. A gifted musician, she played the piano and wrote several compositions of her own, inspired by her musical surroundings. Four of her piano pieces have survived; three were published in her lifetime, a fourth ‘To Dear Daddy has never previously been published.

Now Bärenreiter have produced a typically gorgeous urtext edition of the four pieces, edited by Eva Prchalová.



I’ve been playing them, and they are lovely. Here’s my review…

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