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MUS 1302 (21)
Lecture 8

Lecture 8 - Women Musicians in Early Western Music

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University of Iowa
MUS 1302
Jerry M.Cain

GREAT MUSICIANSLECTURE DAY 8FALL 2007 Women Musicians in Early Western Music thUntil the 20 century women who earned a living as professional composers were rare Although women composed art music in every period in the history of Western music relative to men their numbers historically were very small In the Medieval Era for example a few trobaritz wrote chansons but they were all members of the lesser nobility and thus not financially dependent upon their music for income Likewise there were a few women composers during the later Renaissance and early Baroque but they were mainly cloistered nuns who wrote for the Church who were their supporters The reason for the absence of independent women composers in the Baroque Era is simple musical performance within the home was thought to be an appropriate activity for ladies so long as it was done with modesty but musical performance outside the home was not deemed proper and even the best female opera singers were viewed with suspicion As to musical composition it was considered a remunerative profession the fruits of which were exhibited in public By societal convention women did not engage in incomeearning professions or trades Given this tradition the career of Barbara Strozzi is all the more remarkable yuBarbara Strozzi 16191677 Italian virtuoso singer and composer of more than 100 works The illegitimate daughter of a merchant poet and playwright Guilio Strozzi and hisdomestic servant Guilio supported his daughter and saw that she got an atypicallythorough musical education Barbara Strozzi participated actively in the intellectual and artistic society theAccademia degli Unisoni that her father founded Records indicate that sheparticipated as a singer participant in debates and as a hostess and mistress of ceremoniesall rather unusual since such societies were usually open only to men Although she dedicated her publications to several important figures including FerdinandII of Austria and Sophia Duchess of Brunswick and Lneburg there is no evidence that these patrons directly supported her Strozzi was a prolific composer publishing seven secular collections includingmadrigals arias and cantatas as well as one book of sacred motets for solo voiceThe vast majority of her works are for soprano and continuo suggesting that they werewritten for Strozzi herself to sing Many of these individual works are called ARIA
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