“Scandal threatened to rock the classical music world recently when a music historian named Professor Martin Jarvis reasserted his explosive theory that some of JS Bach’s music was in fact written by his second wife, Anna Magdalena,” writes Clemency Burton-Hill on Friday (11/14)  at the BBC’s website. “Over the years, plenty of minor works by JS Bach have been reattributed to others, with little furore. So why is this causing such a stir? Not only are the pieces in question some of Bach’s greatest—including some of the Cello Suites and Well-Tempered Clavier—but the suggestion they might have been written by a woman rather than another man is raising the musical patriarchy’s collective hackles.… Ever since Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century, women—as in other art forms—have made a significant contribution to classical music which has often been overlooked.” In addition to Hildegard von Bingen, Burton-Hill cites nine other “undersung” female composers “who should be recognised for their contributions to the classical canon”: Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847), Clara Schumann (1819-1896), Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944), Amy Beach (1867-1944), Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), Lili & Nadia Boulanger (1893-1918; 1887-1979), Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), and Judith Weir (1954- ).”

Posted November 18, 2014