Music

This 6-week online course will teach you all about women composers

It's free to register for Musical Herstory, taught by Saskatoon composer Kendra Harder.

It's free to register for Musical Herstory, taught by Saskatoon composer Kendra Harder

Pianist and composer Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47) is reputed to have memorized J.S. Bach's complete Well-tempered Clavier by the age of 13. (Public domain)

"Women have been writing and performing music for as long as men have; so how come we don't know about very many women composers?" This question posed by Saskatoon composer Kendra Harder has inspired her to offer a free online course called Musical Herstory.

Kendra Harder is a composer and classical guitarist living in Saskatoon. (Kendra Harder/Facebook)

Presented by the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO), the weekly one-hour classes begin on Sept. 17 via Zoom.

The course will "explore the socio-historical reasons behind the absence of women from textbooks while exploring their music and their lives," according to the SSO's website.

The six classes will trace the history of women in Western classical music, from the 17th century to the present, with an emphasis on living composers:

  • Week 1: History of feminist musicology.
  • Week 2: Education and socialization of women.
  • Week 3: Suffrage movement and difficulties of being a female musician or musician of colour in the 20th century.
  • Week 4: Living composers: the advancement of music technology and the avant-garde.
  • Week 5: Living composers: composers in the neighbourhood.
  • Week 6: Living composers: music as a living and interacting entity.

Composers to be covered in the course include Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth, Florence Price, Kaija Saariaho, Alexina Louie, Niloufar Nourbakhsh and others.

"The herstory of music shows the bravery and tenacity of women finding ways to create music in a world dominated by men," explains the course outline. "And the herstory does not just live in the past — it is being made today by living and breathing women. How much has really changed?"

For more information or to register for Musical Herstory, head over here.

The SSO has announced a revised 2020-21 season, featuring concerts to be live streamed from St. John's Cathedral in downtown Saskatoon. Details here.

Emma Meinrenken (violin) and Michael Berkovsky (piano) perform Clara Schumann: Romances for Violin and Piano, I. Andante molto. 2:26

now