In the world of music many of the better recognized pieces have often been composed by men. However, in reality there were many women composers in the past that were prolific composers, brilliant musicians but often not acknowledged and many times in the shadow of their male counterparts. Over a 12 month period between 2015 and 2016, I researched and wrote essays about some well known women composers for the WAN web in Japanese. The series is titled "Women composers in shadow of the men's society".
Although the essays are written in Japanese, the music is universal.
Enjoy listening to the pieces of these women composers.
My Youtube Channel:
After finishing my essays and recordings, a concert tour organized by WAN grant was made possible with WAN members.
I am so delighted to visit Morioka, Niigata, Kouchi , Nagoya and Yokkaichi this year to bring the works of all these wonderful women composers to the local people.
On January 1 I was hosted by Japan's radio NHK-FM at which I played a composition by Amy Beach, an American composer of some renown. This music program was broadcast nationwide. I was honored to hear that after my performance, her piece “Hermit Thrush” became everyone's favorite.
The second series of essays and recordings will start from May 2017 for another 12 month period. I hope that the women composers will be recognized for their great works and gain as much popularity as male composers.
IN THE SHADOW OF MEN'S SOCIETY
26-Nov, Benzcur Haz in Budapest
Romance op. 21-1 Clara Schumann
Theme and variation Cecile Chaminade
Atraente (Polka) Chiquinha Gonzaga
Agua Do Vintem(Tango)
A Hermit Thrush at Eve Amy Beach
Ryukyu Dance: Kikuko Kanai
Maiden’s Under the Moon
* * * * * * *
Spring Prelude Vitezslava Kapralova
Op. 13 -No.1
Sweet Dream Tekla Badarzewska
Valses Viennoises Emma Kodaly
- Program Note -
@Clara Schumann Wieck, German b.1819 d.1896
Born in Leipzig, studied piano and composition with her father, Friedrich Wieck, a leading piano teacher in Leipzig. Her fame spread over Europe from age nine after great reviews from the likes of Liszt and Chopin. Robert Schumann lived and studied piano with the Wieck family for over a year, and he and Clara worked closely together musically. After marrying, they had eight children, and his later mental illness made her work even harder. Income from her performances was more than enough to support the family. She wrote approximately thirty piano solo pieces, a piano concert, piano trio and some songs, supported by her friend Brahms.
@Cesile Chaminade, French, b.1857 d.1944
Born in Paris to a wealthy family, her first piano lesson was given by her mother. Her composition at age of 8 was heard by Bizet. The Paris music conservatory took only male students at the time, so she had numerous private teachers. She toured England in 1892, playing for the Queen. In the USA in 1908, she performed at the White House for President Roosevelt. She wrote over three hundred piano pieces for salons, gaining popularity with amateur musicians in the USA where she had a fan club. A successful perfume was named after her, but musically she has been forgotten except for her flute and piano concertino.
@Chinquina Gonzaga, Brazilian, b. 1847 d.1935
Born in Rio to an unmarried Lieutenant father and Mullato mother. Her father acknowledged her at nine months and married her mother. Early music training was given by her uncle and general education by the local priest. She entered an arranged marriage with an older Lieutenant at the age of eighteen, though she ended up leaving him. She started teaching students and performing Brazilian popular music at clubs, gaining huge popularity. During her lifetime she composed over one hundred pieces of music. After two more divorces, her compositions were best sellers and she made European tours including Portugal. She was a supporter of Native American and Gender Equality movements. Her death was reported by an adopted son who was secretly her husband because of their thirty year age gap.
@Amy Beach, U.S.A, b.1867 d.1944
Born in New Hampshire, her mother was a church singer and encouraged her talent, studying with private piano teachers in Boston. She had Synaesthesia, perceiving sound as colour. It was suggested that Amy study in Germany but her mother trained her further until she married Mr. Beach, a Harvard surgeon. He restricted her performances, so she concentrated on composing. After his death, she moved to Germany, made a successful debut and enjoyed life. Returning to the USA in 1914, she lived in New York and was a great supporter of young female composers.
@Kikuko Kanai, Japan, b. 1906, d. 1986
Born in Okinawa prefecture, an island at the southern tip of Japan with its own Ryukyu language and ethnic cultures, which was returned to Japan from the USA in 1975. Studied singing and composition in Tokyo. Her most fervent wish was for Okinawa to get human rights at the same level as mainland Japan and the ethnic folk music to get recognition. She worked as a researcher of local folk songs and her later compilation book won major awards. Her compositions are mostly based on folk melodies from Okinawa. Her son Hiroshi said that she had a great respect for Hungarian composer Bartok.
@Vitezslava Kapralova, Czech, b.1915 d.1940
Born in Brno, Austria-Hungary. Having musician parents, she went to the music academy in Prague after studying in Brno. Joined the young artists' circle and extended her music ability. Had an affair with the Czech composer Martinue who influenced her musically and was like a father figure. Then she married the Czech writer Jiri Mucha whose father was a great painter. She got seriously ill and passed away at the age of twenty-five. Her April Preludes were widely known as performed by the great Czech pianist Fruksny who later lived in New York and was a professor at the Juilliard school.
@Tekla Badarzewska-Barabowska, Poland, b.1834 d.1861
Born in Mlave to a wealthy Jewish family twenty years after Chopin. She self published and sold scores by hand until she became a million seller in Poland. Later, a publisher in Paris found her piece "A Maiden's Prayer" which became popular world-wide, especially in Japan and Korea where the translation meant purity and innocence. After marriage with a Lieutenant, she had five children and passed away at the age of twenty-seven. She wrote over thirty piano pieces.
@Emma Kodaly, Hungary, b. 1863 d.1958
Born in Baja to a Jewish family. Married a wealthy banker in Budapest. Her residence opposite the State Opera House was a salon for young talented composers such as Kodaly, Bartok, Dohany and Debussy. After a divorce, she married Kodaly Zoltan who was nineteen years younger than her. She studied composition with Kodaly and Bartok, writing piano and vocal pieces including "Valses Viennoises". Many of her scores are held by the second wife of Kodaly Zoltan.The quote written by Zoltan in " Valses Viennoises"
These melodies may reflect a few personal traits of a most remarkable woman, the beloved companion of my life for 48 years. She did not care to be published, or to figure as a composer; her music was just an organic part of her life, as well as her very fine piano playing and singing. She was a 'phantom of delight' for everybody who met her." Zoltan Kodaly.1964
Hiroko Ishimoto Profile
Hiroko Ishimoto was born in Sapporo, Japan. She studied at the Toho Gahuen School of Music in Tokyo and at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Her professor in Juilliard was Sandor Gyorgy, the great Hungarian pianist and leading pupil of Bela Bartok. The New York Times has acclaimed Hiroko's music as "a synthesis of creativity and tranquility".
Music World Japan magazine described her as "absolutely original, with a natural sense of rhythm and an ability to harmonize".
While working actively as a pianist, Hiroko devotes her extra time to teaching students and has instructed numerous students for over 10 years at Toho Gahuen. She resides in Budapest currently, where she runs The Hungary Music Seminar for talented young Japanese students every summer together with Jando Jeno, professor at the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy. In 2011, the Cultural Ministry of Japan invited her to perform at a concert for the children of Fukushima who had suffered as a result of the tsunami there. She is an active member of the Women's Action Network (WAN) in Japan. Her series of essays and performances on YouTube of "Women Composers in the Shadow of Men" has attracted many viewers' attention, and a concert tour of these pieces organized by WAN, will be held next year (2017) in Japan. Magyar Radio (the Hungarian national broadcaster) will broadcast a recital by Hiroko next year in Spring 2017.
Hiroko's new CD, "Hungary and Beyond" will be on sale in December this year in Japan.
Her performance of Amy Beach was broadcast nationwide over the NHK~FM radio in Japan on 1st January in 2017.
Youtube Account: Ishimoto Hiroko