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Women In Music Romantic Period

The Romantic Period allowed women, like pianists Clara Schumann and Amy Fay, singers such as Lillian Nordica, Margaret Blake-Alverson, and Sissieretta Jones, to perform publicly. Also, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, and Luise Adolpha Le Beau overcame societal stereotypes to become successful composers. Although their compositions were often kept “in the parlor”, primarily songs or chamber pieces were published.

Advanced musical education of women became possible in the nineteenth century because women were allowed to receive training as singers, instrumentalists, and composers in public conservatories. Also, the rise of the piano as the favored chamber instrument provided women of the middle and upper classes a performance outlet that was socially affordable acceptable. The development of women’s talent, which was mainly limited to singing and playing keyboard, was supposed to be used mainly for entertainment of their families and during courtship. Music was not something women performed publicly. Only opera singers received full expression on the stage.

Composition during this time period remained primarily a man’s job, but some women broke away from the tradition to become successful composers. In addition to some composition works women exerted a significant influence as patrons of music. An example is Nadezhda von Meck. She is remembered as the woman who supported Tchaikosky and made it possible for him to compose. Also, several women of the upper class supervised musical salons were composers could gather to perform and discuss their music.

One of the most distinguished female musician is Clara Schumann. She was born in Leipzig, Germany, on September 13, 1819. Her father was a piano storeowner and a highly esteemed piano teacher. Her mother, a daughter and granddaughter of a musical family, was a talented pianist and soprano. Her father began teaching 5-year-old Clara piano pieces by ear. Clara was a fast learner and it was her father’s great pleasure to create a musical prodigy. By the age of 9 she played public concerts, and as an 11-year-old she toured Paris playing solo recitals. At age 14, Clara began composing the Piano Concerto in A Minor. She performed the completed concerto at age l6 with the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn.

As a teenager, Clara fell in love with Robert Schumann, one of her father’s piano students, who became one of the most beloved composers of the 19th century. Schumann, who was 9 years older...

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