The women erased from musical history

Radio 3 has announced a new, large-scale recording project that will allow listeners to hear the music of five “forgotten” women composers for the first time in decades.

All five women enjoyed some recognition for music-making during their lives, but their achievements were often downplayed during their lifetimes, and in some cases forgotten after their deaths.

They range from an 18th-century Viennese child prodigy to an award-winning African-American symphonist who was nevertheless prevented from teaching music by early 20th-century Jim Crow laws.

Radio 3, in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and BBC Wales, will work with five academics – one per composer – to track down the women’s forgotten pieces of music in the archives, libraries and private collections where they have lain hidden for decades, in many cases unheard since their first performances.

The academics will each be invited to choose one major, previously unrecorded work by each composer for perfomance and recording. In some cases, this will involve creating orchestral parts from an original manuscript for the first time ever.

The music will be edited and professionally recorded by the BBC Orchestras and Choirs, as well as soloists and chamber groups from among Radio 3’s New Generation Artists. All of the recordings will be premiered on Radio 3 on International Women’s Day 2018.