Women Performing Music

The Emergence of American Women as Classical Instrumentalists and Conductors


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About the Book

This book explores the experiences of women from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who pursued careers as public performers, charting a new course in an era when women’s musical activities were generally consigned to the parlor. Certain instruments had historically evolved as “appropriate for women,” and the flamboyant personalities and extroverted emotionalism of Romantic virtuosos and conductors were the antithesis of those qualities traditionally admired in women. However, this work presents an unusual group of young women who nonetheless became noted virtuosos, studying abroad as teenagers and touring North America upon their return. Detailed profiles are given of three remarkable musicians from among that unusual group: Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler (1863–1927)—virtuoso pianist, wife and mother; Ethel Leginska (1886–1970)—pianist, conductor, and 1920s “new woman”; and Antonia Brico (1902–1989)—conductor and transitional figure to the late twentieth century. A concluding chapter contrasts the experiences of women classical musicians in the late nineteenth and the late twentieth centuries. Included are a number of photographs and drawings which impart the perceptions of audiences and critics of the stage presence of these performers.

About the Author(s)

Beth Abelson Macleod is a reference librarian and fine arts bibliographer at Central Michigan University Libraries. She has music degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Central Michigan University, and a library science degree from the University of Wisonsin–Madison. She has given papers on gender and music at a number of music and women’s studies conferences and has published on the subject in the Journal of Social History.

Bibliographic Details

Beth Abelson Macleod
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0904-4
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

“wonderful…a must-have”—Public Library Quarterly; “useful and readable…assembles some of the most substantial biographies of these musicians currently available. Historical photographs and cartoons from periodicals and newspapers enliven the book…extensive endnotes and bibliography”—Choice; “fascinating little-known materials”—University of Illinois Press; “well-researched…a welcome addition”—Journal of Social History.