Even the Score: Female composers edge forward

Last year, New­Mu­sicBox, an online mag­a­zine for con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal music, pub­lished an essay by the com­poser Amy Beth Kirsten enti­tled “The ‘Woman Com­poser’ Is Dead.” Kirsten acknowl­edged that women have had an ago­niz­ingly dif­fi­cult time gain­ing a cre­ative foothold in clas­si­cal music, whose reper­tory is male-dominated to a sti­fling degree. But, in light of the inter­na­tional renown of such fig­ures as Kaija Saari­aho, Unsuk Chin, and Sofia Gubaidulina, she argued that the “woman com­poser” no longer required spe­cial plead­ing or affir­ma­tive action. “Nei­ther art nor artist is served by segregation—even if it’s well intended,” Kirsten wrote. Rather than going out of their way to boost female com­posers, she sug­gested, pro­gram­mers should embrace only works that speak to them strongly, trust­ing that women will con­tinue to advance.”

Read the full story by Alex Ross in the New Yorker.

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