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Music 301/501
Women in Music
A Few 20th Century Composers
20th Century Avant Garde: Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953)
 Born in Ohio; very conservative upbringing
 Arm problems steered her into composing
 Made many important contacts in Chicago, e.g. Henry Cowell, that led to immersion in both
avant garde and folk music, styles which dominated her compositions
 Studied with Charles Seeger (her future husband) confirmed dissonant, serial trends in her
 Received a Guggenheim in 1930; first woman and one of only five up to 1945
 Earlier works very avant garde
 serialized sets (Schoenberg),
 sound mass (Varèse), clusters, intense dissonance
 From Late 30’s on, most works based on folk songs; interest arose from study of Cowell’s
 Example of earlier style: Violin Sonata (1926)
Rebecca Clark (1886-1979)
 English born (Harrow) into a musical family
 Studied violin from age 8, later concentrated on viola and became touring soloist
 Began composing songs age 17
 Studied composition at Royal College of Music from age 21
 One of the first women members of a professional orchestra in London
 Won composition contests in Europe and America, e.g. for Viola Sonata, 1919
 Some works published under male pseudonym Anthony Trent. She admitted publishers paid
more attention to those than some of the works under her name
 Compositions included songs and chamber music
 Her music is “English” in the use of folk songs and modal harmony
 Example: Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1921)
Ellen Taafe Zwilich (b. 1939 in Miami)
 Non-musical but supportive family; played piano, violin, trumpet
 Educated at Florida State; further study after graduation in NYC (Ivan Galamian)
 Free-lanced in NYC as violinist, but always wanted to be a composer; by early 20’s she had
heard many of her works (also unusual)
 Received doctorate in Composition from Juilliard (first woman to receive this degree) in
1975; teachers were Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions
 Music usually categorized as “neo-romantic,” using large genres and resources in large
sound sweeps, but developed further beyond harmony of romantics
 Her success is probably as high as almost any other living composer, man or woman
 Example: Einsame Nacht (“Lonely Night”): songs 3 and 4
 Text by Hermann Hesse, existentialist; translations Jezic p. 178
Example: Symphony No. 1 (originally Three Movements for Orchestra), 1982
 The composition that won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1983
 Great exploitation of range of colors in orchestra
 First 15 bars of 1st movement serve as basis for the entire work, emphasizing the
interval of the third.