American Women- Female Composers of the 20th and 21st Century


For most of the history of the Western classical music tradition, the careers of women composers have been subject to many constraints and limited opportunities. Performances of their works were primarily restricted to the salon and small music gatherings. The most recognizable names from the 19th-century, Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, are just two examples of women, who endeavored to work against their societal constraints and established public and prolific careers.

Over the past century and continuing today, there has been a dramatic increase in female composers with substantial careers. Within the U.S., several women have come to the forefront with distinct styles and voices, including Amy Beach, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Joan Tower, Meredith Monk, Jennifer Higdon, Missy Mazzoli, and Caroline Shaw.

This course will focus on some of the major American female composers of the twentieth and twenty-first century. Through score analysis and readings, students will explore the lives and works of several composers. Weekly discussions will include consideration of historical context and an in-depth look at topics such as harmony and form, style/genre, and orchestration. Students will also have the opportunity to discuss and debate additional topics, including accessibility, advocacy, feminism, gender, and performance practice.

Contact Dayton Kinney for more information.


Crosslisting Numbers: 

GSF 290S-07

Curriculum Codes: