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Five Lives in Music

Five Lives in Music: Women Performers, Composers, and Impresarios from the Baroque to the Present

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Five Lives in Music
    Book Description:

    Representing a historical cross-section of performance and training in Western music since the seventeenth century, Five Lives in Music brings to light the private and performance lives of five remarkable women musicians and composers. Elegantly guiding readers through the Thirty Years War in central Europe, elite courts in Germany, urban salons in Paris, Nazi control of Germany and Austria, and American musical life today, as well as personal experiences of marriage, motherhood, and widowhood, Cecelia Hopkins Porter provides valuable insights into the culture in which each woman was active._x000B__x000B_Porter begins with the Duchess Sophie-Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lueneberg, a harpsichordist who also presided over seventeenth-century North German court music as an impresario. At the forefront of French Baroque composition, composer Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre bridged a widening cultural gap between the Versailles nobility and the urban bourgeoisie of Paris. A century later, Josephine Lang, a prodigiously talented pianist and dedicated composer, participated at various times in the German Romantic world of lieder through her important arts salon. Lastly, the book profiles two exceptional women of the twentieth century: Baroness Maria Bach, a composer and pianist of twentieth-century Vienna's upper bourgeoisie and its brilliant musical milieu in the era of Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, and Erich Korngold; and Ann Schein, a brilliant and dauntless American piano prodigy whose career, ongoing today though only partially recognized, led her to study with the legendary virtuosos Arthur Rubinstein and Myra Hess._x000B__x000B_Mining autograph manuscripts, unpublished letters, press reviews, interviews, and music archives in the United States and Europe, Porter probes each musician's social and economic status, her education and musical training, the cultural expectations, traditions, and restrictions of each woman's society, and other factors. Throughout the lively and focused portraits of these five women, Porter finds common threads, both personal and contextual, that extend to a larger discussion of the lives and careers of female composers and performers throughout centuries of music history.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09413-2
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    In 1792, British author Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Women, arguing women’s right to vote. The book was a small but important part of the numerous waves of feminism that have continued to focus attention on improving the role and status of women in the evolution of civilization. Feminist musicologists and others active in the musical world, especially during the last decades of the twentieth century into the twenty-first, have focused on issues concerning the place of women in music.¹ These scholars point out that specifically in music, Mrs. Jameson’s (see preface) outlook continues to reign...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Duchess Sophie-Elisabeth: Composer, Harpsichordist, and Impresario in the North German Baroque
    (pp. 10-38)

    Born a princess at the court of Güstrow, an active north German cultural center, Duchess Sophie-Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (August 20, 1613–July 12, 1676) made a distinctive mark on the course of German baroque music (fig. 1). Her noble rank and multifaceted talents gave her access to leading avenues of German cultural life, above all in music, along with a number of the most distinguished composers and performers of the seventeenth century. Yet nobility directly presented her with the challenges of a turbulent time and place in Germany and throughout Europe. An ambitious and effective impresario, an ardent arts patron,...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre: Versailles and Paris in the Twilight of the Ancien Régime
    (pp. 39-77)

    If you know something of the palace of Versailles, the city of Paris, and the landscapes of Jean-Antoine Watteau, you have glimpsed the world of the French composer, harpsichordist, and organist Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre (1665–1729).¹ She was the first woman to have a work, her opera Céphale et Procris, staged at the Académie Royale de Musique, the prestigious opera house in Paris. An older contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Händel, Jacquet de La Guerre was baptized on March 17, 1665, according to her church records.² No birth certificate has been found (fig. 8). Catherine...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Josephine Lang: The Music of Romanticism in South German Cultural Life
    (pp. 78-104)

    The birth of Josephine Caroline Lang in Munich on March 14, 1815, crowned a remarkable musical dynasty with perhaps its most illustrious member. Aside from the situations of Lang’s contemporaries Fanny (Caecilie) Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Hensel (1805–1847) and Clara Schumann (1819–1896)—remarkable figures now well documented for their accomplishments—it is difficult to conceive of a more advantageous confluence of extraordinary native musical gifts, favorable family circumstances, and high urban cultural surroundings in the making of a German artist in the nineteenth century. That is, Lang’s life and works are defined here in terms of the particular society, time, and...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Maria Bach: Vienna from Imperial Splendor to the Second Republic
    (pp. 105-147)

    On February 19, 1930, after a performance of music by the Viennese composer Maria Bach (1896–1978), an unidentified critic for the Neue Freie Presse slung demeaning arrows: “… This young woman is decidedly gifted. Certainly, she glows and storms. But knows not where she is going! Ability and childlikeness coexist. All said, the music turns into an enchanting jumble! And she does this with talent. How much little Maria imagines herself to be Stravinsky …; genius or philistine, holy or devilish, she could become anything—perhaps even a completely useful composer!”¹

    And on March 23 of the same year,...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Ann Schein: An American Concert Pianist in Today’s World
    (pp. 148-196)

    This author has been hearing Ann Schein play since we were both about junior high school age. In fact, a prodigy first recognized when she climbed up on the piano bench at the age of three, she has never stopped playing. And her parents, Ernest and Betty Schein, gave her unceasing encouragement and expertise gained from their own intense musical pasts. What was it about Schein that has always drawn me and countless others to her playing? From the first time I heard her, I was entranced by the tonal beauty she could draw from the piano (by no means...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 197-228)
    (pp. 229-238)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 239-244)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-248)