Most kids, if they’ve studied music in grade school can name a handful of music composers. Their list would certainly include composers like Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. Really astute students might be able to remember a few more that their teacher shared, like Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Grieg. Missing from their list are women composers. When time is short, it’s understandable the the list might be limited to these composers is some cases, however, to miss adding a notable woman to the list would fail to encourage our next generation of young girls. If they only see men writing music, it might not occur to them that their creativity is encouraged and welcome in the world of composition as well.
This post celebrates the accomplishments of the greatest of women composers, and provides teachers with the resources they need to share their music with young students.
Lili Boulanger contracted bronchial pneumonia when she was two years old, but it didn’t keep her from becoming one of the greatest women composers of all-time. She composed constantly despite her difficulties with her health, and she earned top marks from her teachers at the Paris Conservatory. In 1913 Lili was awarded the Prix de Rome, a prize her father had won in 1835, making her the first woman to receive the award.
Lili Boulanger Music Lesson Plan Resources
Cortege (Boulanger) for Easy Piano (Level 3)
Cortege (Boulanger) for Easy Piano Solo (Level 5)
Cortege (Play and Learn Edition) for Easy and Intermediate Piano
Clara Schumann was the wife of great composer Robert Schumann. Most people don’t know that Robert would have never been the famous composer that he was if it weren’t for his wife, Clara. She was an exception pianists that played many concerts to support her family. When she wasn’t busy doing that she taught piano lessons and composed music. Germany, Clara’s birthplace, celebrated Clara by placing her picture on the 100 Deutsche Mark for 13 years, until switching to the Euro.
Clara Schumann Music Lesson Plan Resources
Prelude in Bb (Clara Schumann) for Easy Piano (Level 3)
Prelude in Bb (Clara Schumann) for Easy Piano Solo (Level 5)
Prelude in Bb Major for Easy Piano (Play & Learn Edition)
Clara Schumann: Classics for Kids (Audio Episode)
Barbara Strozzi, by the age of 12, was developing a wonderful singing voice and accompanying herself on the lute. In support of her devotion to music her father arranged for composition lessons with a leading composer. By the age of 16 Barbara had already published her first album of music, and she was recognized as a singer of virtuoistic talent. Strozzi’s popular works include Che si può fare, Op. 8 and Lagrime mie. Most worthy of mention is that she is recognized as the most prolific composer – man or woman – of published secular vocal music in Venice in the mid-seventeeth century.
Barbara Strozzi Music Lesson Plan Resources
What Can Be Done? “Che si può fare” (Barbara Strozzi) for Easy Piano
Che si può fare (Barbara Strozzi) for Easy Piano (Play and Learn Edition)
Cécile Chaminade was a French composer and pianist born in Paris, France in 1857. She studied piano, violin, and composition with notable musicians, though not on an official basis, as her father disapproved of music education. At the age of 18, she gave her first concert, and from that point on her work as a composer gained steadily in favor. Chaminade’s “Scarf Dance,” was one of the most popular piano pieces of her time, and it’s estimated to have sold five million copies by the time of her death in 1944. In 1913 Cécile received the Legion d’Honneur, which was a first for a female composer. Ambroise Thomas remarked, “This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.”
Cecile Chaminade Music Lesson Plan Resources
Tarentelle, Op. 123, No.10 (Cécile Chaminade) for Easy Piano Solo
Tarentelle, Op. 123, No. 10 for Intermediate Piano Solo
Fanny Mendelssohn was born in Germany in 1805. As children, Fanny and her brother Felix studied piano and learn the art of composing music. Their father encouraged Felix to become a professional musician, but when Fanny expressed the same he suggested that Fanny become a housewife. After a courtship of several years Fanny married to the artist, Wilhelm Hensel. He encouraged Fanny to compose, and while she never enjoyed a life long career in music, she still found time to write over 400 pieces of music. One of her most popular pieces is “Songs Without Words” for solo piano.
Fanny Mendelssohn Music Lesson Plan Resources
Euphemia Allen doesn’t make most peoples list of greatest women composers, she certainly deserves it. She gave us one of the most popular pieces for piano ever written – Chopsticks. Who hasn’t played this song? Allen originally titled it, “The Celebrated Chop Waltz.” It was composed when she was just 16 years old. We don’t know much about her life, but for the 1901 Scotland census she listed her occupation as ‘teacher of the pianoforte’.
Euphemia Allen Music Lesson Plan Resources
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