Eras of Music

July 18, 2021 by No Comments

Different Eras of Music

“Why is music created by women so peripheral to the traditional ‘classical’ repertoire?” wondered Marcia Citron, a musicologist from the United States. Citron “examines the procedures and attitudes that have contributed to women composers’ exclusion from the accepted ‘canon’ of performed musical compositions.” She claims that in the 1800s, women composers primarily wrote art songs for small recitals rather than symphonies for an orchestra in a large hall, with the latter being regarded as the most important genre for composers. Because women composers did not write many symphonies, they were regarded as unimportant as composers.

“Women musicians have had a hard time breaking through and earning the acclaim they deserve,” according to Abbey Philips. The majority of art music written throughout the Middle Ages was for liturgical (religious) purposes, and few women composed this sort of music owing to religious authorities’ views on women’s responsibilities, with the exception being the nun Hildegard von Bingen. The importance of male composers is almost entirely discussed in academic texts on the history of music. In addition, only a few pieces by female composers are included in the mainstream classical music canon. Clara Schumann is the only woman composer mentioned in the Concise Oxford History of Music. According to Philips, “women composers/players received considerably less recognition than their male colleagues over the twentieth century.”

Medieval Era:

Hildegard von Bingen was a Benedictine abbess, musician, writer, philosopher, and clairvoyant who lived from 1098 to 1179. The Ordo Virtutum, one of her early works as a composer, is an early liturgical theatre and a morality play. Although there is no evidence, several writers have claimed that opera had a remote genesis in this work. There are 69 musical compositions that have their own original literary content. Among mediaeval composers, this is one of the most extensive repertoires. Hildegard created a cycle of religious songs known as the Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum. Antiphons, hymns, sequences, and responsories are among the songs from the Symphonia, which are put to Hildegard’s own text. Her work has been described as monophonic, with soaring melodies that defy the more conventional Gregorian chant.

Renaissance Era:

Maddalena Casulana was an Italian lutenist, singer, and composer who lived from 1544 to 1590. Her first piece, Il Desiderio, a collection of four madrigals, was completed in Florence in 1566. Two years later, she released Il primo libro di madrigali, the first printed and published piece by a woman in Western music history, in Venice.¬†Isabella de’ Medici was a personal friend of hers, and she composed music for her. She released more madrigals in the years 1570, 1583, and 1586. Her sentiments about being a female composer at a period when this was uncommon are expressed in the dedication to her first book of madrigals.

Caterina Assandra was a Benedictine nun and Italian composer who lived from 1590 until 1618. She became well-known as an organist and author. Assandra wrote several motets and organ works. Benedetto Re, one of Pavia Cathedral’s finest professors, taught her counterpoint. In Milan in 1609, she wrote a series of new concertato motets, including an imitative eight-voice Salve Regina in 1611, and a motet for four voices, Audite verbum Dominum, in 1618. She created both conventional and avant-garde compositions. The Duo seraphim is one of the latter kinds. Her motet O Salutaris hodie, which appears in Motetti, was one of the first to use the violone, a bowed stringed instrument.

Baroque Era:

Francesca Caccini was an Italian composer, singer, lutenist, poet, and music educator who lived from 1587 until 1641. Henry IV of France complimented her singing during the wedding of his son Henry IV and Maria de Medici in 1600, calling her the “greatest vocalist in all of France.” Until 1627, she served as a teacher, chamber vocalist, rehearsal coach, and chamber and stage music composer at the Medici court. Her musical virtuosity mirrored a vision of feminine greatness presented by Tuscany’s de facto Regent, Granduchess Christina of Lorraine, and by 1614 she was the court’s most highly paid musician. She created the majority of her stage music for comedy. She released a book of short stories in 1618.

Barbara Strozzi was an Italian Baroque singer and composer who lived from 1619 until 1677. Her impressive singing abilities were on show in front of a large crowd when she was a youngster. Her father arranged for her to study composition with composer Francesco Cavalli because she was skilled in that area as well. “The most prolific composer-man or woman-of printed secular vocal music in Venice in the middle of the Century,” Strozzi claimed to be. With the exception of one volume of religious songs, her work is likewise unique in that it solely includes secular vocal music. Her singing and composing abilities were well-known.

Classical Era:

Harriett Abrams was an English singer and composer who lived from 1758 to 1821. Her interpretations of George Frideric Handel as a vocalist were appreciated. Before making her opera debut at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London in 1775, she studied singing, music theory, and composition with composer Thomas Arne. Between 1780 and 1790, Abrams was a regular performer at fashionable London concerts and provincial festivals. Abrams wrote a number of songs, two of which became well-known: “The Orphan’s Prayer” and “Crazy Jane.” She released two sets of Italian and English canzonets, a collection of harmonised Scottish songs and glees for two and three voices, and over a dozen songs.

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