List of female composers by birth date

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Nineteenth-century composer and pianist Clara Wieck (Schumann)

The following is a list of female composers in the Western concert tradition, ordered by their year of birth.[1] Women composers' names are still largely absent from music textbooks and concert programs that constitute the Western canon, even though a large number of women have composed music. The reasons for women's exclusion are various.

The musicologist Marcia Citron speculated that women composers were deemed less important than men because women typically wrote smaller works, such as art songs, rather than large works, such as symphonies, for public performance in large halls. Female composers were long barred[citation needed] from the profession, owing in part to the essentialist notion that women could not, in Citron's words, "control emotion with logic and reason, masculine attributes requisite for composition." Women were systematically denied[citation needed] access to compositional training and musical performances, and were castigated by critics for writing music that was either too feebly feminine or too unbecomingly masculine.[2] Because the discrimination against women composers[citation needed] is related to general societal attitudes about gender or perceived roles of men and women, many musicologists and critics have come to incorporate gender studies in assessing the history and practice of the art.

Some notable Western composers and musicians include: Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179), a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath; Fanny Mendelssohn (1805–1847); Clara Schumann (1819–1896); Ethel Smyth (1858–1944); Amy Beach (1867–1944); Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979); Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979); Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983); Lili Boulanger (1893–1918); Sofia Gubaidulina (1931–); and Kaija Saariaho (1952–).

Female composers are also listed alphabetically at List of female composers by name.

Before 16th century[edit]

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]


Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia





Portrait of Nora Holt by Carl Van Vechten













See also[edit]


  • List partially created using Grove's "Explore" function, Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 23 September 2006), (subscription access).
  • "Women Composers: A Database by the Kapralova Society." (accessed 23 July 2013), [4]


  1. ^ Print sources include the Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers, ed. by Julie Anne Sadie & Rhian Samuel (New York; London: W.W. Norton, c1995), Barbara Garvey Jackson, "Say Can You Deny Me": A Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th Through the 18th Centuries (Fayetteville: Univ of Arkansas Press, 1994), and Aaron I. Cohen, International Encyclopedia of Women Composers (NY: Books & Music, 1987).
  2. ^ Citron, Marcia J., "Gender and the Musical Canon," Journal of Musicology 8, no. 1 Winter 1990).
  3. ^ Burkholder, J. Peter; Grout, Donald Jay; Palisca, Claude V. (2014). A History of Western Music (International Student Edition, 9th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-393-93711-4.
  4. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]