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, ordered by their year of birth.[1] Almost all of the composers who are described in music textbooks on classical music and whose works are widely performed as part of the standard concert repertoire are male composers, even though there has been a large number of women composers throughout the classical music period.

Scholar Marcia Citron has asked "[w]hy is music composed by women so marginal to the standard 'classical' repertoire?" [2] Citron "examines the practices and attitudes that have led to the exclusion of women composers from the received 'canon' of performed musical works." She argues that in the 1800s, women composers typically wrote art songs for performance in small recitals rather than symphonies intended for performance with an orchestra in a large hall, with the latter works being seen as the most important genre for composers; since women composers did not write many symphonies, they were deemed to be not notable as composers.[2] In the "...Concise Oxford History of Music, Clara Schumann is one of the only female composers mentioned." [3] Abbey Philips states that "[d]uring the 20th century the women who were composing/playing gained far less attention than their male counterparts." [3]

Some notable composers 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); and Sofia Gubaidulina 1931—.

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

Before 15th century[edit]

16th century[edit]




Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia
















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), [1]


  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), and Aaron I. Cohen, International Encyclopedia of Women Composers (NY: Books & Music, 1987).
  2. ^ a b Citron, Marcia J. Gender and the Musical Canon. CUP Archive, 1993.
  3. ^ a b "The history of women and gender roles in music". RVANews. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  4. ^ 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. 

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