Why women were forced to play the piano and other insights into the sexist history of classical music

No resemblance to the real or existing situation is in any way unfortunate … Women still make up only 35% of the orchestra. But did you know that they were banned from church singers until the 1980’s? The story of the great singer and poet Sappho, who was acclaimed in ancient times, was rewritten to make him sulfur and deny his influence? The specialized journalist told how temptation and gender prejudice have crossed centuries and continue.

Was Mozart a woman?

No, Mozart was not a woman! But this title is a compliment to Virginia Woolf. Inside Own a houseThe author imagines the fate of Shakespeare’s sister, who could not have had the same career as her brother, even if she had the talent.

Digging into the history of women in classical music, I discovered that this sister existed, but in the portrait of Maria Anna Mozart, the greatest in five years as a superstar composer. In the family, he was the first to play music and inspire his brother. He was as brilliant as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and their father took them both on a tour of the European Court.

But, obviously, this Maria Anna Mozart had to settle down, get married, stop music. We know that he composed a work, because he sent it to his brother, who encouraged him. This division is lost. Despite the same tendency, the sister did not get her brother’s fate.

How can women be removed from classical music for hundreds of years?

Musicologist Florence Laune believes the beginnings of musicology and historiography have done a lot of damage. Then we put male images at the center of the whole history of classical music: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart… it engulfed all other people, especially women. At XXAnd Over the centuries, gender prejudices about music have prevented us from imagining that female composers could exist …

Thanks to the feminist movement, in the 1970s, women and men began to search, explore and realize that there was plenty. The difference with other artistic domains is that, like painting, music is not seen. To be able to judge a task, to play it, to record it, you need to know how to read a score. This huge work was done in the 1970s and is now gaining momentum. For the first time in the world, one of the orchestral works of French composer Nadia Bolanzer since the beginning of XXAnd Century, will premiere by an American orchestra!

History has not progressed. Some have been pushed too violently. During the French Revolution, feminist voices echoed, such as those of Olympiad de Gজzs or Constance de Salam, who wrote a brilliant letter to women. Then, de Olympus de Gojes was beheaded; Napoleon came up with his civil code: Women should no longer be on stage or in public spaces, but take care of children at home. There will be moments of light and then shadows again, like after World War II: women have the right to vote and everything is closed, since they have “achieved equality” …

Some instruments have long been banned for women. Why?

It changes over time. The flute, a very old instrument, was associated with femininity at the very beginning for its high, crystal sound. But it is a device that uses the mouth to secrete saliva. So it became indecent for women. Today, the flute is again considered hyperfeminin.

Sociologist and musicologist Hyacinthe Ravet has extensively studied the concept of the penis. At the very beginning of the 19thAnd In the century, it was written that women should not be confined to the piano to play certain instruments. Why? Because it is a large device that cannot be transported. So, women will not move from the stove. The woman does not play with her legs apart, her body is not involved. The position is decent for a well-educated young girl. Earlier, in the classical Baroque orchestra, women were part of the orchestra. In the 19thAnd Centuries, they disappear completely, then it takes a long time to come back.

Is this the end?

At the very beginning of the 20’s there was a rather exceptional stage of growthAnd Century, with 100% female orchestra. That people will shout today! The Parisian female orchestra, created by Jane Evard, was famous. It was a full house. The phenomenon has spread throughout Europe. Many women’s groups have been formed in the United States. World War II will change everything.

Today, some instruments are still gender. According to a recent study in 2018, the French orchestra has less than 5% women in the brass and percussion section. It is still a huge male castle. Little girls don’t imagine playing these instruments, there is no model to imitate. The parents still have a psychological break to play the harp to their son. Like toys, gender prejudice is still very strong. Teachers also need to encourage little girls and stop antisocial thinking. Real equality will be good for everyone.

How is the struggle to present women or to force them organized today?

The world of classical music today has a desire for women to be more open, more inclusive, more accessible. In 2019, Emily Delram was the first woman to head the Paris Conservatory. But we set an example once, and behind that we only employ men in opera houses, orchestras. Good initiatives exist, such as the Maestra competition that brings out female conductors. More diversity, more prosperity, discovering unknown treasures: it only brings positive things to the public, to the artists, to those who run these organizations. But there is still much resistance in this highly conservative world that promotes classical music to something untouchable. However, not all is well, it is going through a huge crisis, its viewers are thirty years old.

Are we succeeding in effectively addressing gender based and sexual violence in this sector?

This is an environment where activism is difficult to predict. To fight sexism, a musician has created the Pay Ta Note site, which lists more and more testimonials. The musician had to remain anonymous because he feared being grilled professionally. In France, there is a very strong classification that protects decision makers, directors of organizations, conductors. Classical music does not benefit from the huge press. There is no star status for the movie that can carry this message like Adele Hennell. We’ve talked a little bit about the Bartholomew sisters, but the world of classical music hates them. They delivered a message to the general public that was essential, but it did not resonate with the professional sector.

When Chloé Briot denounced his sexual harassment by another singer on stage, some in the classical music world were warned not to publicly support him. Singer Placido Domingo was accused by twenty women. The investigation is very difficult, but he has no problem giving concerts in France. It is very difficult to get support from women on these issues. Many suffer, many are leaving the industry.

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