Is Music As Diverse As We Think?

by bstrekha

Throughout the course, I have noticed a pattern among the composers we have studied thus far. The pattern exists between Bernart de Ventadorn, Perotin, Machaut, Desprez, Palestrina, Weelkes, Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach, Rameau, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. Can you find the pattern? I’ll give you a second before telling you the answer. (No, the correct answer isn’t that they were all composers, although that is also true.)

They are all men! I found this fact very interesting. Where were all the women at this time? Turns out, they were always there. However, opportunities were limited for women before the twentieth century. (Some may argue that opportunities for women are limited to this day.) Most women were expected to be house wives and few held careers. Among their limited opportunities was a career in music. Opera needed females in order to succeed. But even then, women weren’t respected on the same level as the men. Women had to be on the stage displaying themselves, which caused some to question their respectability.

Even rarer than a woman opera singer was a woman composer. (Our textbook did mention Hildegard of Bingen, who is considered the first great woman composer by musicians. One of her compositions, “Columba aspexit”, can be found on Disc 1. It is the second track.) However, I wanted to concentrate on another name: Francesca Lebrun (1756-1791). Lebrun’s compositions gained praise and were even published in several countries. Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to reach the climax of her career.

Listen to one of her compositions, Sonata in F, Op. 1, No. 3, on the second disc, track 38.

Similarly, (you don’t have to listen to the whole thing) check out:

Francesca Lebrun 6 Sonatas for Violin and Piano Opus I –

I personally think that Lebrun had talent.

Did you wonder how things would be if more women were given opportunities? What if there was a women out there that was even better than Mozart and Beethoven but was not given the same opportunities? What do you think? Would music more developed or, in more general terms, different than what it is now if women were given the same opportunities as men?