Why so few female composers in the great classical period?

Here’s an intriguing answer: no one would play or produce works by women:

But the main reason, I think, that there were so few female composers during the glory centuries of classical music is that composers depend on performing musicians and ensembles to play their works, and until relatively recent times, musicians, ensembles and musical institutions were overwhelmingly male.

There were a significant number of female novelists, poets and painters in earlier times. But if you were a Jane Austen, you could sit at home and write your novels. As long as you found a sympathetic publisher, you could get your books distributed and be acknowledged. Compare this to the situation facing Clara Schumann, one of the most celebrated pianists of the 19th century. She was also a gifted composer, though she mostly wrote piano pieces, songs, chamber works: things that she and a circle of musician friends could perform. If she had tried to compose symphonies and operas, even she, for all her renown, would have hit a dead end with male orchestras and opera companies, which would have been unwilling to champion the works of a woman. So why bother?

There would be several obvious female contenders for a list of top 10 novelists. Or poets. But consider this: Where are the great female playwrights of earlier centuries? Again, this is the same problem as with female composers: what theater company was willing to present plays by women?

Sexism in Fresher’s week

An article from the Independent, suggesting we need some more compulsory fresher’s classes in feminist philosophy?

““CEOs and Corporate Hoes” themed night.

Perhaps the intention is light-hearted. But it is sobering to consider that these fresh cohorts of new students, perhaps amongst them the CEOs of the future, both male and female, are being sent the message by their own universities that men are CEOs, Pros and Geeks – powerful, talented, intelligent, whilst women are condemned to derisive sexual valuation alone.”

More here http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/slut-dropping-and-pimps-and-hoes–the-sexual-politics-of-freshers-week-8203400.html

Jezebel has already picked up on it: http://jezebel.com/5950287/slut+dropping-and-other-ways-college-teaches-kids-to-be-sexist-assholes?tag=sexism

Opportunity to list some female philosophers

Philosophy Now Magazine is having a ‘fun’ survey, asking us to name favourite philosophers. Whatever you think of the survey, let’s not miss out on the opportunity to get some female names in there [we all know what it will look like otherwise…. ].

Rick Lewis

Philosophy Now magazine is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, and we are marking the occasion by inviting professional philosophers to respond to a short questionnaire. We think your answers would interest our readers by telling them something about the current state of opinion among academics.

Yes, we realize that questions like “who is your favourite philosopher?” might encourage shallow, oversimplistic judgments but hey, we thought we’d do it anyway. It is mainly for fun.

Please reply to me off-list, and I’ll post a summary of responses here afterwards. Individual responses will be treated as confidential and only summaries of responses will be published, both here and in the magazine. And do please feel free to forward this questionnaire to other professional philosophers.

Best wishes,
Rick Lewis

Editor, Philosophy Now


(Please type your answer below each question).

A] Please name the five historical (ie dead) philosophers you consider the most interesting or important.

B] Please name the five living philosophers you consider the most interesting or important.

C] Please name the rising star among younger philosophers (under 40) who you consider the most worth watching.

D] What current philosophical movement, tendency or approach do you consider to be the most interesting?

E] Which two areas of philosophy (i.e. ‘Philosophy of X’) do you consider to be the most active at the present time?
F] What is the most interesting philosophy book published in the last 5 years?

G] (For data analysis purposes only) Are you: (a) an academic (b) a graduate student (c) other philosopher?