Can any but a handful of high school music students with a range of interest somewhat broader than the instrument they play name any great women pianists other, perhaps, than Martha Argerich? And do those know that Argerich is as great as, if not a greater pianist than, any living male pianist? And that she is not an oddity of nature?
Long before it was seemly for a woman to have a profession, or for that matter to vote or own property, women of genius and great courage have shaken, if not changed the world. The names of a few of these remarkable women are in the books our children study at school. They know about Harriet Tubman, and Susan B. Anthony, of course, and Florence Nightingale, and George Eliot. Some few know of Madame Curie. Fewer still have heard of
It will come as little surprise to anyone to discover that in every field of endeavor - let us for the sake of our argument say over the last 250 years - it is a huge surprise whenever it is discovered that a woman has made a prodigious contribution to that field. (Acting and pop music are recent exceptions for reasons our popular socio-anthropologists ponder at length.) And so it is in the field of classical music.
The number of great women pianists or women composers that comes easily to the minds of most is pitifully small, the number of women conductors smaller still.
Below are links to what I hope will be an astonishingly impressive number of great women pianists. It has certainly answered the disturbing question my then 9 year old daughter put to me after attending a piano recital: "Daddy, can a woman be a concert pianist too? I wanted to enroll her into
beginner piano lessons
almost the instant I heard her say that.
I have many special favorites, Dame Myra Hess and Dame Moura Lympany, both British, were phenomenal pianists, as was Guiomar Novaes, a Brazilian, who was considered by many to be one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century. The wonderful Lili Kraus leaves me breathless. Martha Argerich, a contemporary giant from Argentina, must be at the top of anyone's list of the greatest living pianists. And my most recent discoveries: a young, because she died so young, Russian pianist, Rosa Tamarkina, Marcelle Meyer, an amazing French pianist of the first half of the 20th Century whose playing of the French composers of her time is as exciting as it is authentic, and Agnelle Bundervoet, also French, whose mastery of the great German repertoire leaves be breathless.
And finally, a very special treat, recordings of the complete Kinderszenen of Robert Schumann by Fanny Davies and Adelina de Lara, pupils of Clara Schumann, and of Brahms and Robert Schumann by Ilona Eibenschütz , another student of Clara Schumann, who as a child of six played duets with Liszt, and was a very good friend of Johannes Brahms.
It is one of my goals to celebrate the achievements of as many of these great women pianists as possible. The following link will take you to a page containing the links to pages I have created for the names printed in bold type below.