Sunday, 20 May 2012

Is this a man's world?

Having not posted for a while because of A-level revision and exams, I wanted to post about something that is close to my heart. From my other posts, you'll know that I am a keen composer, and want to pursue this as a career. However, it suddenly occurred to me that there is a significant male domination of the occupation, and I wanted to find out why. At first I asked my parents, friends and teachers if they knew of any female composers, and the only name I was given was Judith Weir, a British composer born in 1954. The only piece of hers that I know is 'Illuminare Jerusalem', something which is not well-known, and not always well-received.

Of course there is the obvious reason for the lack of female composers; in the past women were discouraged and even prohibited from having careers, particularly in the arts - which were considered lowly professions and unsuitable for ladies. Examples of this include Clara Schumann and Gustav Mahler's wife: Alma Mahler, who was made to give up composition by her husband when they were married. However, if the discouragement of women participating in the arts is the reason as to why there are so few known female composers, then why does history carry a long list of successful and famous female artists and actresses such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe, Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor?

(From left to right: Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and Frida Kahlo)

On Wikipedia, there are lists of composers split up by categories such as experimental, classical, jazz etc. One list is titled: contemporary female composers, on which there are eighteen names. There is no list for contemporary male composers, as there are too many to mention. I still find that my question has not been answered, and I have absolutely no knowledge of any female composers from the past or present.

So I end my post with the question: Is this good news for me as it shows there to be a gap in the market for something I am trying to do, or is something telling me that it is a lost cause? Any information about female composers would be welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment