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The Glass Ceiling in Classical Music: “The Law Has Been Ruled by Men for Centuries”



The story goes that Paganini was impressed by Schumann’s ability when he heard his fingerings on the piano when he was only nine years old. At eleven, he gave his first full recital. By the age of eighteen, he was enjoying complete opulence and applause from the Viennese critics. He received a commendation from Franz Liszt and was awarded Austria’s highest musical honour. An anonymous critic of the time described his music this way: “In his ingenious hands, in the most ordinary syllables, the most routine design acquires a felt meaning, a color, which only those who possess a masterful art can bestow.” Perhaps none of this is surprising. Besides the title of Schumann.But who is hiding behind these bits of autobiography? It’s not Robert, but Clara.

Story of the Clara Schumann, the virtuoso composer and pianist of the nineteenth century, is the author of others. To be and not to be seen. of silence and oblivion. His recitals and piano concertos remain buried, despite their formidable technical quality. She herself wrote in her diary: “Once I thought I had a creative talent, but I gave up this idea. A woman should not want to compose, she is not skilled enough for that, so why should I expect to be able to do it?”.

“Everything about thought is already known to be unsuitable for women, and that we are not good at thinking,” he says, ironically, Marisa Manchadocomposer and deputy general director for music and dance at INAEM between 2007 and 2008. Although no one today publicly supports the idea championed by Schopenhauer, his influence to this day remains unquestioned in academic music.

Carmen Martinez Perrett Pianist and Artistic Director. He’s been repeating the same experiment for some time now: he sends fellow musicians a list of about 70 composers and asks how many he knows. Most of them stay at seven or eight. “It’s not that there were no women authors,” he says, “I have in my archives more than 600 works. But we lived in a patriarchal society under historical manhood.”

Clara Schumann did not know her ancestors, as hardly girls who study at conservatories know them today. The classical canon—the repertoire that has been legitimized in history—“has been dominated by men for centuries,” says Martínez-Pierret. “And when a woman can compose, she struggles so much that, as soon as she died, the reel of Sharia passed over there and disappeared.” removed from history.

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Muharram in music education

The Paris Conservatoire, founded in 1795, vetoed women in composition and most instruments, excluding them from singing or piano, more in line with the stereotype of women. Genius can hardly be honed by a woman, immersed in routine work. Robert Schumann lamented that his companion Clara He could not devote his time to composition; She gave birth to eight children. Clara has composed a series of small pieces that display unprecedented musical intelligence and tenderness. But having children and a husband who is always living in fantasy doesn’t go hand in hand with composition. She can’t work regularly and it often bothers me to think how many deep thoughts are missing because she doesn’t You can discover it.”

Manchado insists that many years of study are needed. And women, who are more present than men in primary and secondary music education, as adults move into the background. Clara Schumann was an extraordinary woman who raised a family and was one The best pianist of the nineteenth century, despite the fact that history has brought us Liszt or Chopin & rdquor; , he confirms.

Wives and sisters

When Queen Victoria of England invited Felix Mendelssohn to the palace, she wanted to sing him her favorite work, Italian, included in Opus 8. The composer admitted that it was not him, but his sister Fanny. Alma Schindler was already showing a remarkable talent for composing when she married Gustav Mahler, about 20 years her senior, and the terms of the marriage included banishing her from his creative genius: “The role of the composer belongs to me, and the role of the composer is that of a caring and understanding companion.” The list is endless.

Martínez-Pierret started a project to restore women composers for some time, which she called Silence was broken. She repeats, “We must be very vigilant so that today’s women composers do not force us to be silent again.” file Serenadethe first set, begins with a declaration of intent, quoting the composer and director Nadia Boulanger:”Let’s forget I’m a woman and talk about music& rdquo;.

Data showing glass ceilings

Louis Farnes She became the second professor of history at the Paris Conservatoire in 1842, but her salary was much lower than that of her male peers. He had to fight and prove himself to get a match after a decade. Almost two centuries have passed and the situation is not much different.

For example, the New Year’s concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: in its 83 concerts a man always leads the baton, and out of 18 people there is not a single woman who conducts it. “The exposure and frenzy that accompanies a concert are dangerous,” emphasized Franz Wilser-Most, the director of this latest release, “and it is necessary to have a lot of experience.” “He is parental paternalism, As if he wants to protect us women. Who are you to say if or not a woman is willing to direct this party? ” says Martínez-Pierret.

At the 95th edition of Hollywood’s most important film awards, the Academy Awards, this would have been the first time that two women have been nominated in the Best Original Score category — courtesy of Anne Dudley and Lynn Ahrens, both of whom have been nominated in a missing category already. From “Best Score for a Musical or Comedy” 1997-. Chanda Dancy W Hildur Gunadottir They were shortlisted by the Academy, but the conquest was short-lived: only Guðnadóttir managed to appear among the candidates. The Icelandic composer has opened a hole in that glass ceiling by winning a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar for Best Original Score in 2020 for the film. joker. Speaking, she said, “To the girls, to the women, to the moms, to the girls who hear the music pouring inside, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.”

No trophies, no ammunition

The music is full of glass ceilings: they never run the show or soloists. In the National Orchestra of Spain there are hardly three women for every seven men. and none in the five management positions. The programs for the 2022-2023 season, presented by the four men in charge of the respective organizations, consist of: Twenty managers and five managers only. in ammunition, 20 composers in front of 111 men. And this despite the “special attention” to the presence of female makers and outputs that INAEM has highlighted. In the rest, the situation is not much better.

Pilar Rios, of the Association of Women in Music, notes that “the classical field remains overly conservative” and “the men continue to make great programmes. But there is Ways to avoid male bias. “There are orchestras in the United States that accidentally have too many women and have auditioned with a monitor,” he says.

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In 2021, the Joan March Foundation celebrated the cycle The Spanish Piano in the Nineteenth Century: A Legal Proposal which sought to recover the Spanish piano repertoire to create a new, less limited canon. in his strenuous choice There was not a single composer’, which particularly infuriated Martínez-Pierret: “Who is responsible for creating this list of nineteenth-century authors and has the great talent of not including a single woman? The best way not to find is not to search.”

The National Music Award has two methods, creativity and interpretation, and has been awarded since 1980. In these more than forty years Only 60 men and 14 women were awarded. In the composition, only 38 men and 5 women. “They say that the balance goes the other way, say people with relevant positions in the ministry, he & mldr; & rdquor;. Rius prefers not to complete the sentence that completes itself. Because there is nothing more democratic than not ignoring half of society.

spain blank and mldr; of women

The Observatory for Gender Equality in Culture has repeatedly called for penalties to be included in the Equality Act 2007, which is not being complied with. “Private initiatives program with parity almost naturally, but public initiatives are not even ready to sign parity letters,” says Pilar Rios. In June, they reached an agreement to try to increase the presence of female composers by at least 40%, but in the end it was done through small “ghettos”. The president of the Association of Women and Music gives an example of the programming of the Zarzuela Ambego Festival or the Cadiz Festival, but the rest “Spain is empty and mldr; of women & rdquor ;. We hope that one day quotas will not be necessary, but the problem is that reality shows us stubbornly that once the stakes are removed, we’ll be back again”, “Talent is what must be won, but if the conditions are the same for all rdquor;.

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