W h o   i s   s h e ? 

A perpetual work in progress, this webpage is designed to be a portal for finding out more about women composers through the ages. It is by no means exhaustive, either in terms of the personages listed or the resources available. Links to webpages that require subscriptions (such as entries in the essential Oxford Music Online/Grove Music Online) have been omitted.

More to come soon!

The publisher Furore, dedicated to publishing music by women composers, has an excellent directory, organised in alphabetical order with brief biographies; you can find it here.

*Disclaimer: These links are being provided for the sake of convenience and educational purposes only. They do not reflect an endorsement or an approval by FL of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation, organisation or individual, nor is FL's website endorsed by these external organisations. FL claims no ownership and bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites. Please observe all copyright laws.

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Composers are listed in chronological order. Find links to external websites* below:

*See disclaimer above.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)​

(Ian D. Bent, "Hildegard of Bingen," rev. Marianne Pfau, Grove Music Online, September 16, 2010, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.13016.)

Primarily known for: Plainchant works

Listening sample: Ordo virtutum

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Maddalena Casulana (ca. 1544–ca. 1590)

(Thomas W. Bridges, "Casulana [Mezari], Maddalena," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.05155.)

Primarily known for: Madrigals

Listening sample: Morir non può il mio cuore

Biography: Historical Anthology of Music by Women  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Choral Public Domain Library  |  IMSLP 

  

Francesca Caccini (1587–after June 1641)

(Suzanne G. Cusick, "(2) Francesca Caccini [Francesca Signorini; Francesca Signorini-Malaspina; Francesca Raffaelli; 'La Cecchina']," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.40146.)

Primarily known for: Operas, other vocal works

Listening sample: Lasciatemi qui solo

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

Barbara Strozzi (1619–1677)

(Ellen Rosand and Beth L. Glixon, "Strozzi, Barbara [Valle, Barbara]," Grove Music Online, August 28, 2002, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.26987.)

Primarily known for: Cantatas for solo voice and continuo, other vocal works

Listening sample: Lagrime mie

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

Isabella Leonarda (1620–1704)

(Stewart A. Carter, "Isabella Leonarda [Leonardi, Anna Isabella]," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.13920.)

Primarily known for: Sacred vocal works, instrumental sonatas

Listening sample: 'Sonata duodecima'

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Maria Szymanowska (née Wołowska, 1789–1831)

(Zofia Chechlińska, "Szymanowska [née Wołowska], Maria Agata," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.27327.)

Primarily known for: Nocturnes, studies and character pieces for piano, songs

Listening sample: Polonaise in F Minor

Biography: Société Maria Symanowska  |  Polish Music Center, USC  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

Louise Farrenc (née Dumont, 1804–1875)

(Bea Friedland, "(2) (Jeanne-)Louise Farrenc [née Dumont]," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.09336.)

Primarily known for: Chamber music, études and character pieces for piano, orchestral works

Listening sample: Symphony No. 1

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn Bartholdy, 1805–1847)​

(Angela Mace Christian, "Hensel [née Mendelssohn (-Bartholdy)], Fanny Cäcilie," Grove Music Online, November 28, 2018, accessed October 10, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/omo/9781561592630.013.3000000159.)

Primarily known for: Songs, character pieces and sonatas for piano, chamber music

Listening sample: String Quartet

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Clara Schumann (née Wieck, 1819–1896)

(Nancy B. Reich, "Schumann [née Wieck], Clara (Josephine)," Grove Music Online, February 23, 2011, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.25152.)

Primarily known for: Songs, character pieces for piano, chamber music, piano concerto

Listening sample: Piano Trio

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Pauline Viardot (née García, 1821–1910)

(Beatrix Borchard, "Viardot [née García], (Michelle Ferdinande) Pauline," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.29283.)

Primarily known for: Songs, transcriptions for voice and piano, operettas

Listening sample: Fleur desséchée

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

Elisabeth von Herzogenberg (née von Stockhausen, 1847–1892)

(Antje Ruhbaum, "Von Eisbergen und Unterwasserlandschaften: Elisabeth und Heinrich von Herzogenberg und der Brahmskreis," Herzogenberg und Heiden, accessed January 19, 2021, https://www.herzogenberg.ch/eleisbergen.htm#tit6.)

Primarily known for: Character pieces for piano, songs

Listening sample: Allegretto and Andante (Nos. 2 and 6 from Acht Klavierstücke)

Biography: Wikipedia  |  Stadt Leipzig (in German)

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Amanda Maier (1853–1894)​

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

Article: Library of Congress

  

Teresa Carreño (1853–1917)

(Laura Pita, "Carreño, (María) Teresa," Grove Music Online, May 28, 2015, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2282327.)

Biography: Britannica  |  Wikipedia 

Archives/documents: Bibliothèque nationale de France  |  Collection at Vassar College

Sheet music: IMSLP

Article: Independent UK

  

Cécile Chaminade (1857–1944)​

Visit Spotlight on Chaminade for an exclusive Q&A with pianist Mark Viner!

(Marcia J. Citron, "Chaminade, Cécile (Louise Stéphanie)," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.05388.)

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Mélanie Bonis (1858–1937)

(Judy Tsou, "Bonis, Mélanie (Hélène) [Mel-Bonis]," Grove Music Online, July 10, 2012, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.45497.)

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

 

Dame Ethel Smyth (1858–1944)

(Sophie Fuller, "Smyth, Dame Ethel (Mary)," Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed June 18, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.26038.)

Biography: Wikipedia  |  British Library  |  Wise Music Classical  |  Brooklyn Museum 

Sheet music: IMSLP  |  Wise Music Classical 

  

Amy Beach (née Cheney, 1867–1944)

(Adrienne Fried Block, "Beach [Cheney], Amy Marcy [Mrs H.H.A. Beach]," rev. E. Douglas Bomberger, Grove Music Online, October 16, 2013, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2248268.)

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

 

Alma Mahler (née Schindler, 1879–1964)

(Peter Franklin, "Mahler(-Werfel) [née Schindler], Alma Maria,Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.43383.)

Biography: Universal  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Universal  |  IMSLP

Article: Classical-music.com

Dora Pejačević (1885–1923)

(Koraljka Kos, "Pejačević [Pejacsevich], Dora,Grove Music Online, July 25, 2013, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.44994.)

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979)

(Liane Curtis, "Clarke [Friskin], Rebecca (Thacher) [Helferich],Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed March 11, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.44728.)

Website: Rebecca Clarke Society

Biography: Clarke Society (reprint of Grove article)  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Clarke Society

Florence Price (née Smith, 1887–1953)

(Rae Linda Brown, "Price [Smith], Florence Bea(trice),Grove Music Online, January 31, 2002, accessed May 18, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.48286.)

Biography: Florence Price platform  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP  |  Wise Music Classical

Articles: Classical-music.com  |  The New Yorker  |  NPR 

Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979)

(Caroline Potter, "Boulanger, (Juliette) Nadia,Grove Music Online, January 31, 2002, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.03705.)

Biography: Britannica  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)​

(Robert Orledge, "Tailleferre, Germaine (Marcelle),Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.27390.)

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

(Annegret Fauser and Robert Orledge, "Boulanger, (Marie-Juliette Olga) Lili,Grove Music Online, January 31, 2002, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.03704.)

Biography: Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901–1953)

(Ellie M. Hisama and Judith Tick, "Crawford (Seeger), Ruth (Porter),Grove Music Online, July 10, 2012, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2224168.)

Biography: Britannica  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: IMSLP

  

Grażyna Bacewicz (1909–1969)

(Adrian Thomas, "Bacewicz, Grażyna,Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.01669.)

Biography: Polish Music Center, USC  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Schott

Ursula Mamlok (1923–2016)

(Barbara A. Petersen, "Mamlok, Ursula,Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.47480.)

Website: Mamlok-Stiftung

Biography: Mamlok-Stiftung  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Boosey & Hawkes 

Article: NY Times

Thea Musgrave (b. 1928)

(Jennifer Barnes, "Musgrave, Thea,Grove Music Online, November 27, 2002, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.19399.)

Website: Musgrave

Biography: Wikipedia

  

Sofiya Gubaydulina (b. 1931)

(Valentina Kholopova, "Gubaydulina, Sofiya Asgatovna,Grove Music Online, January 31, 2002, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.11911.)

Biography: Wise Music Classical  |  Britannica  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Boosey & Hawkes  |  Wise Music Classical

  

Joan Tower (b. 1938)​

(Ellen K. Grolman, "Tower, Joan,Grove Music Online, January 31, 2014, accessed October 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2258544.)

Biography: Wise Music Classical  |  Wikipedia

Sheet music: Wise Music Classical

  

Tania León (b. 1943)​

(J. Michele Edwards, "León, Tania (Justina),Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.42484.)

Website: León

Biography: Wikipedia

Libby Larsen (b. 1950)

(Mary Ann Feldman, "Larsen [Reece], Libby [Elizabeth] (Brown)," rev. Laura Greenwald Strom, Grove Music Online, October 16, 2013, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2250015.)

Website: Larsen

Biography: Wikipedia

  

Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)

(Kimmo Korhonen and Risto Nieminen, "Saariaho, Kaija (Anneli),Grove Music Online, January 31, 2002, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.45895.)

Website: Saariaho

Biography: Wikipedia

  

Melinda Wagner (b. 1957)

(Mark Alburger, "Wagner, Melinda,Grove Music Online, January 20, 2016, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2289660.)

Website: Wagner

Biography: Wikipedia

Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962)

(Christina L. Reitz, "Higdon, Jennifer (Elaine),Grove Music Online, February 6, 2012, accessed October 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2219143.)

Website: Higdon

Biography: Wikipedia

   

Rebecca Saunders (b. 1967)

(Robert Adlington, "Saunders, Rebecca," rev. James Saunders, Grove Music Online, September 9, 2009, accessed June 18, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.52802.)

Website: Saunders

Biography: Wikipedia

Lera Auerbach (b. 1973)

Website: Auerbach

Biography: Wikipedia

   

Missy Mazzoli (b. 1980)

Website: Mazzoli

Biography: Wikipedia

  

Caroline Shaw (b. 1982)

(Meg Wilhoite, "Shaw, Caroline (Adelaide)," Grove Music Online, May 28, 2015, accessed June 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.2277536.)

Website: Shaw

Biography: Wikipedia

  

Denise Lee (b. 1987)

Soundcloud: Lee

  

  

  

Other useful links:

Classic FM article

Wikipedia article on women in music