Monday, March 14, 2011

Women on the Margins or "If she's worth my time, why haven't I heard of her?"

Judging from the response I got to my last post offering a chance to listen online to performances of some terrific music written by 19th and early 20th century women who had been either marginalized or ignored by the general musical public during their lifetimes, I fear that unless major changes happen in the musical landscape, most of these women and most of their music will remain in a marginalized underclass. I simply can't pretend it isn't so.

Their underclass status has nothing to do with the quality of the music these women wrote, and it has nothing to do with the acclaim their work gets from unimportant critics (like me) or well-prepared performances by hard working performing musicians (like me). I think that it has a great deal to do with the fact that people are afraid to subject themselves to something that they have been quietly led to consider "inferior" music for much of their lives. Some people believe that if they encounter a piece of music from the 19th century or the early 20th century written by someone they "never heard of," that piece of music and that composer must not be worth hearing . . . unless that composer happens to have been a man.

Related posts:

More (or less) about music by women
The rest are women
The Rest is Men


Anonymous said...

If by response you mean no one (or few people) took you up on your offer of the recording, do you have a "control" post in which you offered a concert recording of a different program by well-known composers? (Not to mention the post viewer stats for each.)

I say this, because perhaps you're losing heart prematurely and the low response isn't necessarily a reflection on the composers. I, for example, saw your offer, but on an overwhelmed day in the middle of an overwhelmed period when listening time of any kind is at a premium. I figured even if I downloaded the concert I might never find time/energy to listen. (Which is sad in itself, but my response would be the same if the program on offer were Bach, Mendelssohn and Schumann!)

Elaine Fine said...

Anonymous: I asked interested people to send me an e-mail message so that I can send them an invitation to a dropbox folder with the audio files. It's too bad that you don't have time to listen. Perhaps sometime in the future you might want to. My post will still be there, and I will keep the files available for a long time. This is not an experiment. It's real life, so I never even considered the idea of a control post. I'm simply interested in sharing this music with people who read this blog.

Anonymous said...

"Underclass?" The discussion seems not focused on music. As a second anonymous commenter refelcting on the two posts so far, I would only say that placing your recordings or at least excerpts in the blog alongside lots of YouTube videos (with their 10 minute limit) would be less daunting than requiring folks to send you their email addresses. Edberg has three fine Lalo excepts on his blog which require no gate keeping. You might want to make you recordings as easily available as that. Requiring an "invitation" is just too clever by half, and a turn off to someone who might sample but not listen to it all, or wish to divulge their address. After all, folks don't have to go through a scanner to attend a concert. It's not a good marketing tool.