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Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers

Concert Music, 1960-2000

edited by Laurel Parsons & Brenda Ravenscroft

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2017
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2019
    List Price

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Over the past 30 years, musicologists have produced a remarkable new body of research literature focusing on the lives and careers of women composers in their socio-historical contexts. But detailed analysis and discussion of the works created by these composers are still extremely rare. This is particularly true in the domain of music theory, where scholarly work continues to focus almost exclusively on male composers. Moreover, while the number of performances, broadcasts, and recordings of music by women has unquestionably grown, these works remain significantly underrepresented in comparison to music by male composers. Addressing these deficits is not simply a matter of rectifying a scholarly gender imbalance: the lack of knowledge surrounding the music of female composers means that scholars, performers, and the general public remain unfamiliar with a large body of exciting repertoire.

Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers: Concert Music, 1960-2000 is the first to appear in a groundbreaking four-volume series devoted to compositions by women across Western art music history. Each chapter opens with a brief biographical sketch of the composer before presenting an in-depth critical-analytic exploration of a single representative composition, linking analytical observations with questions of meaning and sociohistorical context. Chapters are grouped thematically by analytical approach into three sections, each of which places the analytical methods used in the essays that follow into the context of late twentieth-century ideas and trends. Featuring rich analyses and critical discussions, many by leading music theorists in the field, this collection brings to the fore repertoire from a range of important composers, thereby enabling further exploration by scholars, teachers, performers, and listeners.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Laurel Parsons, Ph.D., is a music theorist who has taught at the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Queen's University, and the University of Oregon. Her research interests include post-tonal music by Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy, and Danish electroacoustic composer Else-Marie Pade, representation of Inuit poetry in late 20th-century Canadian and British music, and post-secondary music pedagogy for students with learning differences. She has published articles on Lutyens's music in Theory and Practice and Canadian University Music Review, and on aural skills pedagogy for students with dyslexia in Music Theory Online. In addition, she has contributed chapters to Arctic Discourses (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010) and British Modernism and Music 1895-1960 (Ashgate, 2010). From 2012 to 2015, she chaired the Society for Music Theory's Committee on the Status of Women.

Brenda Ravenscroft, Ph.D., is Professor of Music Theory and the Dean of the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. Her research focuses on post-tonal American music, text and music, rhythmic organization, the music of South African composer Priaulx Rainier, and pedagogy in higher education. She has published on the music of Elliott Carter, John Cage and Lou Harrison in Music Analysis, Perspectives of New Music, Music Theory Spectrum, and Tempo, and on the flipped model and peer learning in Music Theory Pedagogy. She wrote on Carter's vocal music in Elliott Carter Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and authored the "Case Study on Music Analysis" in The Flipped College Classroom (Springer, 2016). From 2006 to 2009 she chaired the Society for Music Theory's Committee on the Status of Women.