Women musicians and composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Below is Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna, often known as Nannerl.


Maria Anna Mozart as a child (1763) (portrait said to be by Lorenzoni) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Anna_Mozart#mediaviewer/File:Maria_Anna_Mozart_%28Lorenzoni%29.jpg

Nannerl, was said to be as talented as her famous brother, and even composed. Yet when their father Leopold found out, he was displeased and forbade her to compose again.  We can only imagine the effect this must have had on this talented girl! And girl she was- being a child at the time. Like her brother Wolfgang, Nannerl had talent, but unlike his which was encouraged, nurtured and celebrated, hers was to be suppressed. What amazing works has the world lost due to this unfair treatment?

For a great article on Nannerl and other women composers and musicians such as Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn:

If Clara Schumann Had Only Been a Man!


And this was even discussed by men in the last century. Ernest Newman, a well regarded music critic wrote about this in The London Musical Times in the early 1900s, which is reproduced here:

Have Women Had Just Opportunities in Music?


Interestingly, or perhaps alarmingly,  this entry is not listed in his wikipedia article:


But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for women composers. Some like the English composer Alice Mary Smith ( 19 May 1839 – 4 December 1884) had some degree of success and recognition for their work. In November 1867, the year that she married a lawyer (which was often the demise of a woman’s career) she was elected an associate of the Royal Philharmonic Society. This was an opportunity that was completely unthinkable for Nannerl Mozart.

Alice wrote many works and  her first symphony in C minor, written when she was 24 was performed at the Musical Society of London in 1863.



Here is the symphony: