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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LCM Piano Syllabus 2021-24

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London College of Music Examinations (LCME hereafter) bill themselves as a progressive, friendly exam board offering a wide selection of graded music exams and professional diplomas. Founded as far back as 1887, the board arrived on the scene two years before ABRSM, and ten years after the first board, Trinity College Exams.

LCME pride themselves on continuing to lead the way in developing exam options that are relevant to today’s global world. Indeed, the performance grade options that other boards have introduced in the last year follow a blueprint LCME laid down years ago.

Uniquely, having become part of the University of West London, LCME are now the first and only exam board whose qualifications are awarded by a University. Conducting exams in more than 80 countries around the world, LCME retain their traditional qualities while being widely praised for fielding examiners known for being warm and approachable, ensuring candidates are put at ease and able to perform to their full potential.

With such particular strengths, it is perhaps odd that relatively few teachers are aware of their offer, but the recent arrival of the 2021-2024 Piano Syllabus and accompanying Handbooks offers a timely opportunity to take another, closer look…

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Melanie Spanswick: Simply Driven

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Melanie Spanswick enjoys a successful career as a pianist, teacher, writer and blogger. In recent years she has added composer to this list, with a succession of publications beginning with easy minimalist pieces for EVC Music, and now writing for Schott Music.

I have previously reviewed her collection No Words Necessary (written for intermediate pianists) here on Pianodao, as well as her series Play it Again for adult returning pianists. Her latest book Simply Driven is a collection of 5 “Virtuoso Pieces”, which are suitable for players at around Grade 8 and above…

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Play it Again: Piano

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Melanie Spanswick’s Play it Again: Piano series launched with two books published by Schott Music back in 2017. Now, with a third book joining the series, it’s time for another look.

This new review covers all three books in the series, so let’s dig in…

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Melanie Spanswick: No Words Necessary

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Lots of piano players enjoy the contemporary stylings of popular composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Yirumi and David Lanz, but it’s not so easy to find really good arrangements of their music that are accessible to intermediate players, and which manage to be both concise and accurate distillations of the post-minimal piano style.

The search for an educationally sound and musically engaging alternative just got easier with the publication by Schott Music of No Words Necessary, an excellent collection of 12 new pieces composed by Melanie Spanswick.

These interesting and enjoyable pieces will certainly satisfy those looking for approachable contemporary piano solos, and they further confirm Melanie as an imaginative and engaging composer.

So let’s check it out …

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Faber Music Piano Anthology

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Faber Music launched their deluxe Faber Music Piano Anthology with impeccable timing, just a few weeks before Christmas – but it makes a wonderful gift book for enthusiastic pianists, all the year around!

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