A Helpful List

A Helpful List

I intended to write a response to Alex Gardner’s column celebrating International Women’s Day last week, but my poetic muse got the better of me. The state of women composers in our community today is indeed an important one, as David Smooke’s column investigates, and it is a subject of which we need to be constantly reminded.

There have been several discussions and articles over the past few years that have touched upon this subject (examples here here, here, here, here, and here, and the various facets of the discussion are complicated and not entirely one-sided – the specter of choosing works for anything other than artistic merit is sure to start a fierce debate.

I, however, do not intend raise such specters with this column. The need for greater programming of women composers is, of course, strong and obvious enough that nothing I could say could add to the argument. What little I can do to help the issue along I have done in the hopes that with information comes progress. Having been the positions of programming works for ensembles as well as selecting guest composers for new music festivals, I understand that one of the challenges in ensuring a balanced program is finding the composers–the internet gives us so much information with so little filtering.

With this in mind, I have created a list of 202 women composers to help all those ensembles, soloists, pedagogues, and organizations that may want to increase their programming of women composers. I do not make this list with any intent of labeling any one composer as being better than another–it is simply a reference to assist those who are interested in learning who is out there. Hyperlinks have been included to allow for easy navigation to their websites. This list is just a start–I have collected names over the years and this is the fruit of that collection. I ask that if you know other names that should be added to this list, please add them in the comments section. I apologize ahead of time if I have left names off that are known to me–I’m quite sure there’s a least a few names that I neglected that will induce a facepalm.

In the future, I hope that this discussion fades into the realm of the unnecessary–until then, use this list with the best of intentions and I look forward to being informed of others who are not listed.

Eliane Aberdam

Julia Adolphe

Kati Agocs

Adrienne Albert

Elizabeth Alexander

Kathryn Alexander

Beth Anderson-Harold

Laurie Anderson

Kerry Andrew

Clarice Assad

Lera Auerbach

Jennifer Barker

Carol Barnett

Sally Beamish

Eve Beglarian

Jennifer Bellor

Lauren Bernofsky

Abbie Betinis

Lisa Bielawa

Betsey Biggs

Carla Bley

Rose Bolton

Victoria Bond

Susan Botti

Jenni Brandon

Charlotte Bray

Carolyn Bremer

Kirsten Broberg

Margaret Brouwer

Courtney Brown

Eliza Brown

Shih-Hui Chen

Mary Ellen Childs

Unsuk Chin

Kyong Mee Choi

Andrea Clearfield

Anna Clyne

Gloria Coates

Lisa Coons

Renée T. Coulombe

Cindy Cox

Chaya Czernowin

Tina Davidson

Tansy Davies

Maria De Alvear

Emma Lou Diemer

Kui Dong

Emily Doolittle

Alexandra du Bois

Du Yun

Melissa Dunphy

Adrienne Elisha

Conni Ellisor

Marti Epstein

Nomi Epstein

Roshanne Etezady

Amanda Feery

Lesley Flanigan

Cheryl Frances-Hoad

Gabriela Lena Frank

Heather Frasch

Ruby Fulton

Nancy Galbraith

Alexandra Gardner

Stacy Garrop

Erin Gee

Mara Gibson

Suzanne Giraud

Janice Giteck

Annie Gosfield

Helen Grime

Sofia Gubaidulina

Anne Guzzo

Amanda Harberg

Linda Tutas Haugen

Mara Helmuth

Jennifer Higdon

Edie Hill

Dorothy Hindman

Sarah Horick

Emily Howard

Melissa Hui

Wang Jie

Marisol Jimenez

Lynn Job

Allison Johnson

Jenny Olivia Johnson

Jennifer Jolley

Zoe Keating

Elizabeth Kelly

Anne Kilstofte

Leanna Kirchoff

Amy Beth Kirsten

Barbara Kolb

Laura Kopelwitz

Kristin Kuster

Joan La Barbara

Andrea La Rose

Lori Laitman

Bun-Ching Lam

Sally Lamb McCune

Libby Larsen

Hannah Lash

Elodie Lauten

Mary Jane Leach

Anne LeBaron

Tania León

Elanie Lillios

Elizabeth Lin

Deborah Lurie

Gilda Lyons

Caroline Mallonee

Bunita Marcus

Paula Matthusen

Beth May

Missy Mazzoli

Frances McKay

Cindy McTee

Anna Meredith

Jenny Bernard Merkowitz

Helena Michelson

Anna Mikhailova

Diana Mino

Meredith Monk

Beata Moon

Zae Munn

Thea Musgrave

Tamar Muskal

Angelica Negron

Amy X Neuberg

Olga Neuwirth

Ketty Nez

Loretta Notareschi

Allison Ogden

Elizabeth Ogonek

Pauline Oliveros

Tawnie Olson

Roxanna Panufnik

Andreia Pinto-Correia

Paola Prestini

Leanna Primiani

Leah Sproul Pulatie

Shulamit Ran

Jody Redhage

Andrea Reinkemeyer

Belinda Reynolds

Sarah Ritch

Erin Rogers

Jessica Rudman

Elena Ruehr

Kaija Saariaho

Kate Salfelder

Jamie Leigh Sampson

Eleonor Sandresky

Laurie San Martin

Maria Schnieder

Laura Schwendinger

Debra Scroggins

Amy Scurria

Sophia Serghi

Judith Shatin

Marilyn Shrude

Arlene Sierra

Alex Shapiro

Sarah Kirkland Snider

Christine Southworth

Suzanne Sorkin

Bernadette Speach

Laurie Spiegel

Jane Stanley

Jennifer Stock

Hilary Tann

Augusta Read Thomas

Molly Thompson

Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Dale Trumbore

Joan Tower

Nancy Van de Vate

Adriana Verdie

Lois V Vierk

Kirsten Volness

Aleksandra Vrebalov

Melinda Wagner

Gwyneth Walker

Jennifer Walshe

Meira Warshauer

Dalit Warshaw

Orianna Webb

Frances White

Liza White

Amy Williams

Julia Wolfe

Rain Worthington

Luna Pearl Woolf

Xi Wang

Carolyn Yarnell

Chen Yi

Bora Yoon

Nina Young

Pamela Z

Judith Lang Zaimont

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

119 thoughts on “A Helpful List

    1. Rob Deemer

      Thanks, Jonathan!

      I’ve already been sent a couple of e-mails with other names – I’d much prefer that folks just add the names (and websites if they have them) here in the comments as Jonathan and Andy have…my list is, as I mentioned, just a start, not a proclamation of who is worthy. Thanks!


  1. Rob Deemer

    As a point of clarification – while I didn’t explicitly mention this in my post, the list of composers is made up of women who (as far as I know!) are still living. This does not preclude adding names of composers who are no longer with us here in the comments, but that may explain why some names did not appear on the original list.

    To this end, I’d like to add a name and a book to the list. The name is of a young composer who passed away five years ago, Jennifer Fitzgerald, who received a touching remembrance from her friend, Caroline Mallonee, here on NMBx (http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/Real-Bands-Real-Bonds-In-Memory-of-Jennifer-Fitzgerald/).

    The book that everyone should be aware of is, of course, the Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers – a wonderful reference for women composers throughout the ages.

  2. Frank J. Oteri

    Great list, and great additions, though sadly the extraordinary Canadian composer Ann Southam, cited above by Andy Lee, is no longer with us. Though, of course, that doesn’t mean that folks should stop playing her remarkable music. Off the top of my head, I’ve thought of an additional 22, I thought I’d stop there since that’s already over my limit in blackjack and otherwise I’d do nothing else all day. All of the composers I’ve included herein are living Americans (folks born or based in the USA or both). Most are people I have entire discs of music by which are readily available, although I did throw in a few others, like the fascinating Vera Preobrajenska (b. 1926) whose music has yet to be recorded commercially and whom I only learned about a few years back through our Online Library. But other folks should keep the names coming….

    Geri Allen http://www.geriallen.com
    Jane Ira Bloom http://www.janeirabloom.com
    Alla Borzova http://www.newyorkwomencomposers.org/profiles.php4?zdm_id=BOR01
    Joanne Brackeen http://www.joannebrackeenjazz.com
    Elizabeth Brown http://www.elizabethbrowncomposer.com
    Julia Scott Carey http://www.juliascottcarey.com
    Wendy Mae Chambers http://www.wendymae.com
    Anat Fort http://www.anatfort.com
    Molly Joyce http://www.mollyjoycemusic.com
    Laura Kaminsky laurakaminsky.com/
    Žibouklé Martinaityté-Rosaschi http://www.zibuokle.com
    Ann Millikan http://www.annmillikan.com
    Patricia Morehead http://www.patriciamorehead.com
    Polina Nazaykinskaya musicians.yale.edu/polinamusic
    Ileana Pérez-Velázquez music.williams.edu/node/289
    Vera Preobrajenska http://www.amc.net/VeraPreobrajenska
    Michele Rosewoman http://www.michelerosewoman.com
    Amy D. Rubin http://www.amydrubin.com
    Daria Semegen composers.com/daria-semegen
    Linda Catlin Smith http://www.catlinsmith.com
    Carol Sudhalter sudhalter.com/
    Elizabeth Swados lizswados.com

  3. Cathleen

    Thank you Rob, this is an amazing list.

    I would recommend some Canadian ladies: Barbara Pentland, Violet Archer, and Jean Coulthard; just to name a few, there are many (many) more here: http://www.musiccentre.ca

    We are celebrating the Barbara Pentland’s Centennial this year! There is a call for proposals from Educators and Ensembles. Check it out here if you are interested.

  4. Sam Nichols

    hi Rob,
    this is great. (Full disclosure, I’m prob. biased because my wife is on your list.)

    A few more come to mind:

    Natasha Barrett http://www.natashabarrett.org/

    Yu-Hui Chang http://yuhuichang.com/

    Eun Young Lee http://eunyoungleemusic.com/EYL/Welcome.html

    Karen Power http://www.karenpower.ie/www.karenpower.ie/Home.html

    Kate Soper http://www.katesoper.com/

    Hillary Zipper http://web.mac.com/cafe_alicia/iWeb/Prana/News/CF8789DC-46E1-4F5A-8BB5-C0E547C5BFED.html

  5. Frank J. Oteri

    OK, I lied, here’s yet another 10. A pox on blackjack, I’m not a gambler anyway… (A note of thanks: I was reminded of a few of these names, which includes people we have actually profiled in NewMusicBox, by one of our loyal readers who refuses to participate in online discussions. I am extremely grateful for this reminder, but the privacy of said person remains safe with me….)

    Ruth Anderson http://www.last.fm/music/Ruth+Anderson
    Ellen Fullman http://www.ellenfullman.com
    Anne Guthrie http://www.fraufraulein.com/anne
    Brenda Hutchinson http://www.sonicportraits.org
    Mari Kimura http://www.marikimura.com
    Anne La Berge http://www.annelaberge.nl
    Annea Lockwood http://www.annealockwood.com
    Martha Mooke http://www.marthamooke.com
    Laetitia Sonami http://www.sonami.net
    Lu Wang music.columbia.edu/columbiacomposers/?page_id=305

    O.K., I’ll stop (I think…), but you all should not. Keep the names coming….

  6. SamD

    These are some more ‘avant/contemporary names’ (particularly Australian ones):

    Ana- Maria Avram is AWESOME – spectralist stuff and electronics etc
    Liza Lim is great – Australian but based in Huddersfield now.
    Sungji Hong – does some really interesting work
    Natasha Anderson – Another Aussie, works mainly with recorder and electronics, but has written a few works for other configurations now too, and produces some super awesome stuff
    Cat Hope is Perth-based and does some cool stuff with both infrasound, and with graphic scores. Many of her works are for programmed score in MaxMSP, and definitely worth a look too…

    I have a bunch more and will add at some point :)

    If anyone’s interested in adding electronic composers/computer musicians to the list I know a bunch of women who kick arse at that too…

  7. Rose Bolton

    Hello Rob thanks for the article and post, and I am thrilled to be on the list!
    Not sure if they are mentioned already so sorry for any multiple mentions: Allison Cameron, and Linda Smith…both composers whom have been an inspiration to me!

  8. Emily

    Also a few more Canadian composers: Jennifer Butler, Ana Sokolovic, Analia Lludgar, Cassandra Miller, Monica Clorey, Chiyoko Szlavnics, Annesley Black, Dorothy Chang, Hildegard Westerkamp, Cleo Palacio-Quintin, Emily Hall, Marci Rabe, Alexina Louie, Abby Richardson.

    I think Canada may be a country with one of the highest percentages of women composers, though I’ve never seen figures on it.

  9. PWT

    Some more names of terrific composers, a few historical, but mostly contemporaries: Carola Bauckholt, Dawn Chambers, Mildred Couper, Jody Diamond, Judy Dunaway, Barbara Monk Feldman, Vivian Fine, Ann Guzzo, Hi Kyung Kim, Jo Ann Kuchera-Morin, Pamela Madsen, Margaret Shelton Meier, Gladys Nordenstrom, Alexandra Pierce, Molly Sturges, Catherine Urmer, Ann Warde, Anne Wellmer.

  10. Amy Kirsten

    Dear Rob,

    I appreciate the generous motivation behind this list, but personally I would much prefer for people to focus on programming GOOD music.

    This list really opens a can of worms, one that is quite complex and with a long and sordid history which, believe it or not, goes back hundreds of years. This list feels, to me, like the residue of a battle that was fought and won in the 20th century. While its commendable to be aware of, and in support of, all composers striving to make art, it is our first responsibility to identify and program music that is excellent – and that doesn’t have anything to do with gender. I would hate to think that my work has been programmed simply because I’m a woman – and in fact, I’ve declined concert and recording opportunities that were gender based.

    Three years of my life were spent on a dissertation focused on this very subject. My goal was to come away with a better understanding of history, and of myself. I believe we are at a time when the arts would be better served by a healthy lack of self-awareness with regards to this issue. It would be a great detriment to the field if suddenly, in the 21st century, when we’ve largely transcended the issue of gender, to start focusing on it again. Neither art nor artist is served by segregation – even if it is well-intended. The moment we return to programming based on gender, is the moment we begin to go backwards.

    There are two things your list proves: 1) there is no shortage of excellent composers working in this field and 2) the ‘woman composer’ is dead.

    Best wishes to you,
    Amy Kirsten

    1. Rob Deemer

      Dear Amy,

      I suspected that sooner or later there would be a response to this post such as yours, and I understand that the topic is a landmine of sorts. I did not undertake this task lightly or with any sense of disrespect to the composers I listed, and I am in complete agreement with the core of your concern, especially when as it pertains to programming.

      That being said, after considering the various aspects of this post, I came to the conclusion that the benefits of starting a list from which performers, ensembles, educators, and other composers could explore and discover that good music which you mention outweighed any potential detrimental effects it could contain.

      There are ensembles and presenting organizations that program themed concerts which feature women composers in addition to other concerts based on other themes such as region, nationality, or style. I, for one, am not a fan of themed concerts in general and “Women Composers” concerts in particular – to be selected for performance solely based on anything other than one’s music is neither satisfying nor helpful for the individual or the community. I realize that this list may indeed be used for that type of programming, but it was not with that intention that I wrote this column.

      To be clear – I do not condone programming based on gender, but with this list I am encouraging awareness based on gender, as I could easily do the same with region, nationality, genre, and a host of other categories.

      One of the most difficulties about discovering living composers and their music is knowing where to look. The double-edged sword that is the Internet has given us an incredible access to thousands of composers, but few filters through which we can sift through that access to make our searches manageable.

      I know this from experience, back from my days searching high and low for composers to feature on my radio show in Oklahoma (which is how I discovered your music, btw). Some I found through directories (American Composers Forum, etc.), but others I found through lists that others had made – several composers who I now call friend and colleague I came across on Alex Ross’ blog “The Rest Is Noise” where he listed contemporary composers whose music he liked.

      I found this list and others to be particularly helpful, knowing full well that while there was a bit of bias to each list (in Ross’ case these were composers who matched his tastes in one way or another), I could make my own judgments once I investigated each website and find even more composers through association. It is my hope that others use this list in the same way – not to segregate, but to investigate, to discover, and ultimately to enjoy good music that might have gone otherwise unnoticed.

      You state that “While its commendable to be aware of, and in support of, all composers striving to make art, it is our first responsibility to identify and program music that is excellent…”. In my opinion, I don’t see how you can do the latter without doing the former. It is only through awareness that one can identify that “excellent” music to begin with.

      Many ensembles today base much of their programming on personal knowledge of composers, either through their own friendships in school and life or through suggestions by others that they trust (“Thus has it always been, etc, etc.”). There is nothing whatsoever wrong with that, but this can lead to a sense of comfort through familiarity. All this list does is to allow others the chance to become familiar with composers that they may not have been before.

      Because of my own interest in learning about other composers – not only for the search of excellent music, but to understand what it meant to be one – I have tried to become familiar with as many of them as I could, and it is out of this interest that this list was culled. I may be guilty of trying to be “too helpful” in this case, but there are worse things to be accused of.

      If anyone on it feels uncomfortable being listed in the post, I will ask that her name be removed without hesitation.

      In closing, there is not enough thoughtful and (relatively) objective advocation for composers in this country, and I am thankful that there are a few venues (including NMBx) within which this advocation is possible. It is my strong sentiment that by helping and advocating for others – even by simply listing their names and linking to their websites – our entire community and society as a whole will be, in some small fashion, better off.

      With warmest regards,

      1. Marvin Rosen

        I am coming to this discussion a bit late however, I read with interest almost all of the blogs regarding this subject which is very close to me. Thanks Rob for all the links.

        I agree with you Rob that this is a complicated and explosive issue, but to argue about the word “woman composer”seems to me pointless and frivolous at least at this time.
        My wife brought to my attention that in most languages based on Latin, identifying a “gender” is not a problem because nouns have 3 genders and you would know if a composer is a woman without adding an extra word.

        I am aware that some women are sensitive about this, but I do not see any problem with organizing all woman concerts and programs separately since women do not get much exposure and this might be the only opportunity to be heard.

        The problem is how our society perceives women, and we have plenty bad examples around.You always will have someone who will have a problem accepting women as composers (as well as other so called male professions) regardless how you call them.

        We should work out a solution as to how to improve this problem, and yes, it is a problem for most woman composers and new music in general.
        All new music concerts are wonderful but with limited reach, and as long as most classical radio stations and major orchestras ignore new music (which has a much higher percentage of women), play the same music after 1750 and include only occasional tokens of new music we will have a problem.
        To this day, the average listener as well as some professional musicians have a problem in naming 5 women composers.

        As long as people are not aware who is there, nothing will help and here it comes, your list – an excellent source for musicians but it will not help in the education of the general public.

        As an educator I get a lot of pleasure seeing young women’s faces light up with pride on the news that yes, we had and have women composers in all historical periods and this knowledge empowers them to look into pursuing education in the music field. I always make a point to add women composers in my history classes.

        As a radio host I have being occasionally criticized for presenting whole programs of music by woman composers and using word “woman”.
        I will not change what I am doing until the situation improves and my patronage is not needed.
        Listeners need to know about contemporary composers and my program does that – filling voids left by education, some media and entertainment industry. Such an easy way to learn by listening to radio and being exposed to new composers.
        Quite a number of women (and man) composers received commissions because someone hear their music on my program.
        In my weekly shows I always find a place for “women” and for the last 9 years every regular program in March is devoted to their music. Should I be ashamed of that?
        Like you, Rob I have asked openly if any woman composer does not wish to be presented on my program. I will respect their wishes and so far I have not heard from anyone.
        Also, each playlist has a link to the composer’s website so a listener can learn more about. If you check a special page just for these programs, you might find more unknown names at:



    2. Emily

      Hi Amy,

      Twenty years ago I felt exactly the same way you did, and believed that now that there are plenty of “good” (however that is determined) women composers, due recognition and representation of women composers was imminent. I avoided participating in concerts of music by women and thought organizations representing women composers were, or at least ought to be, a thing of the past.

      My perspective has really changed in the last five years or so, and even more so since beginning teaching 4 years ago. Most textbooks give almost no recognition of women composers, even in genres in which they have been quite prominent, and often when they do, it is clearly as an afterthought. I see my female students struggling with lack of confidence — partly because they don’t see themselves represented in the wider musical world — and sometimes failing to get their work out there because of self-doubt, while male students of similar talent have no such hesitations. (Obviously there are exceptions). Also, I’ve been paying attention to the works programmed by ensembles, and new pieces by women are very rarely programmed in proportion to the percentage of living composers who are women. (I think in the U.S., about 20% of composers are women, and when I look at the new music programming of ensembles, it is typically 5-10% women at best. Of course, there is not enough new music programmed at all, which is another problem!)

      Also, the whole thing about “good” music is trickier than it seems, because when we’re listening to a new piece, we’ll probably be more predisposed to like it or give it the benefit of the doubt if the composer is someone we perceive to have musical authority — and for many people, the subconscious image they have of a composer is still a man. (This is sort of like how men used to be perceived to be better musicians in orchestral auditions, and then once blind auditions were introduced women started making up a larger percentage of orchestral members.)

      Likewise, I don’t really understand people who are so afraid of having their music chosen for a concert because someone is looking for a woman composer. I’m always excited to have an opportunity to get my music out there, whatever the reason. Whether they program my music because I’m a woman, and then find that it is “good”, or the other way around really doesn’t matter to me! This is much better than, for example, an ensemble that I spoke to a few years ago that told me they hadn’t programmed anything by a woman on their new music series because they “didn’t have time”. (How does it take more time to program a piece by a woman than by a man?) And really, whenever I see that an ensemble is making an effort reversing historical inequities, I am glad that people are putting thought and care into this.

      Of course I don’t want to see music by women composers represented only on concerts of music by women — definitely this sort of segregation would be taking many steps back — but I do think these concerts can sometimes be helpful people more aware of some great music by composers who are often underrepresented for historical/cultural reasons. Hopefully one day we won’t need these, but I think we are far from that point right now.


      1. Christina Rusnak

        To the point above about not wanting to see programs of women composer BY women composers. In the Northwest, the women of Cascadia Composers started just that with great success.

        While women are certainly represented on other regional composers’ concerts, the Crazy Jane concerts are also about raising awareness of the amount of high caliber music being composed by women composers today.

  11. Ella M. Fredrickson

    “Hidden World of Girls: Stories for Orchestra is a full evening-length, interdisciplinary work exploring the lives of girls and the women they become—stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secret identities—women who crossed a line, blazed a trail, changed the tide. Inspired by the Hidden World of Girls series on NPR the project uses the power of the symphonic form and contemporary multimedia to bring these women and girls’ culturally diverse stories to new audiences. This exciting collaboration brings together a team of artists from a range of mediums—The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva/Davia Nelson) as lead artists/concept, Laura Karpman as lead composer/creative director, three female composers (Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, Alexandra du Bois and Clarice Assad), the multimedia group Obscura Digital under the direction of Travis Threlkel, and MacArthur Fellow, conductor Marin Alsop.”

    July 28 & 29, 2012

  12. Elaine Fine

    Don’t forget Marion Bauer and Amanda Maier, two composers who are no longer living, and spent too many years in obscurity.

    Emily’s comment above reflects some my experience as well.

  13. Edgardo

    Thank you for the list! But don´t forget the names of four great argentine composers: Hilda Dianda, Alicia Terzian, Irma Urteaga, Marta Lambertini.

    Best regards,


  14. Benjamin Loeb

    Excellent post and discussion. What is clear is that we need to find more ways to program more new music, more good new music, and more good new music of women composers. Lists and discussions like this are inspiring in that they show what a treasure trove of music is available, if we only just discover it. Now, we just need bold music director, performers, executive and marketing directors and boards to encourage courageous and adventuresome programming to introduce our generally conservative audiences that they need and want to hear this wonderful music.

    Let me also add Kim D Sherman to this list: http://kdsherman.com/

    1. Lysander

      “Now, we just need bold music director, performers, executive and marketing directors and boards to encourage courageous and adventuresome programming to introduce our generally conservative audiences that they need and want to hear this wonderful music.”


  15. David Froom

    These folks are published by ACA. A couple have been mentioned already, but most have not. A short bio and sound clips for most of the are available here:


    And since this list includes Miriam Gideon, I feel compelled to mention Louise Thalma. When I was student in NYC in the 80s, they, together with Ursula Mamlock (also needing a mention), were among the pioneers in getting the world to take serious women composers seriously.

    Elizabeth R. Austin
    Elizabeth Bell
    Marilyn Bliss
    Eleanor Cory
    Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy
    Jan Gilbert
    Laura Greenberg
    Loretta Jankowski
    Barbara Jazwinski
    Frances McKay
    Sarah Meneely-Kyder
    Dorothy Rudd Moore
    Alison Nowak
    Daria Semegen
    Marilyn Shrude
    Ann Silsbee
    Joyce Hope Suskind
    Beth Wiemann

  16. Liane Curtis

    Thank you for this very interesting article, and also thanks to all those giving feedback. Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy is building our web site to be a resource for information of this kind. http://www.wophil.org Please also see our blog post about orchestral repertoire http://www.wophil.org/tag/repertoire-reports/ , with data drawn from the League of American Orchestra statistics. Another resource on our web site is a partial list of the repertoire of The Women’s Philharmonic which performed (primarily) music by women. http://www.wophil.org/wphilrep/
    The goal of Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy is to continue the legacy of The Women’s Philharmonic by promoting repertoire by women to orchestras and ensembles. Shortly with we will be announcing our “Gold Star” prize to the orchestra making the best contribution in this area. We are also inviting proposals for guest blog articles.
    Another valuable resource is the International Alliance for Women in Music, http://www.iawm.org/. We cooperate with them on some of our projects.
    Thank you. Liane Curtis, President, WPA.

  17. Lysander

    And of course the genius composer VERONIKA KRAUSAS (Canadian, Lithuanian, and working in Los Angeles at USC).


    but happy that the comments section is adding so many marvelous, brilliant artists. We’ll need another list of 500 women composers.

      1. Steve Ledbetter

        Another misspelling: there is an extra L in Eve Beglarian (in the original list)

        Corrected. Thanks, Steve! — NMBx

  18. Juan Carlos Acosta

    Thank you for this list and for all that are continuing to contribute to it.
    I lead a Women’s choir based in a church music setting and I am constantly on the look out for music for women’s voices. My dream would be to produce a concert of sacred music by women, for women. This may indeed be part of my grad school experience, if not my thesis project.

    One more name I would like to contribute to this list is Joan Szymko who writes beautifully singable music.

    Thanks for the conversation, the help and the encouragement.

    Juan Carlos Acosta

  19. Timothy Williams

    A gigantic list is revealing in that it shows what we’re missing, but is it that helpful for programming? Not really though it’s an honorable endeavor.

    What would be more helpful is a shorter, more manageable list of women composers with annotations indicating what styles they compose(d) in.

    Or a list of recommended pieces by women composers for various ensembles (e.g. chamber group, vocal and piano, orchestra, percussion ensemble, etc.).

    This might be more helpful to busy programmers and other selecters of repertoire in getting women composers compositions performed more regularly.

    1. Kathryn Mishell

      It is wonderful to see so many women composers recommended by so many. Here is a source programmers and others may find helpful, and that could help organize a search: http://www.intothelightradio.org

      In its 347 playlists of hour-long broadcasts, each with a unifying theme, one can browse these subjects for ideas about programming. Commentary about the pieces, and audio of the first thirty seconds of each selection are there to be listened to. And It features an alphabetical listing of hundreds of women composers.

      I hope all will enjoy this resource.

      Kathryn Mishell, composer, and producer and host of INTO THE LIGHT.

  20. Jonathan Newman

    Rob, you know I love you, but the fact that this list will always be incomplete is the exact reason why lists like this don’t work. Off the top of my head I can think of five composers who happen to be female not on this list or in anyone’s additional comments, and I’ll probably add them in because I adore them all, but the thought of being part of this exercise kind of skeeves me out. Not only because I know I’ll be leaving out countless others, but also because this whole process just makes me really uncomfortable in its “Don’t forget so-and-so! She’s a woman!”, thus making everyone temporarily feel a little bit better about the situation. Which they shouldn’t. The situation is not good. Women in the tiny world of composition are horribly, embarrassingly, and cringe-inducingly under-represented AND under-respected, both in the practical programming of music (performances) and in the cloistered, whispering world of composers in general. Despite the obvious exceptions we can all point to. My discomfort talking about this clearly comes from my white maleness and my subsequent feelings that I have no right to comment on these matters, but I do admit that talking about it (ie, your piece above) can probably only help. I suppose NOT talking about likely makes it worse. But I can’t help thinking that from a sociological point of view, lists like the above are the equivalent of admiring a zoo cage full of endangered animals from a distance, to make us feel better about endangering them in the first place. I’m positive that comparison is a stretch. But still. I know I would personally be weirded out to be included in a list of, say, Jewish composers, but no one is making that list. Because there is obviously not a problem there. So I should probably just shut up.

    Anyway, I think Justine Chen, Amanda Harberg, Vivian Fung, Milicia Paranosic, and Joni Greene are female.

    1. Jonathan Newman

      Something I realize I wasn’t clear about: I DO understand your motivation behind this list: to assist those who WANT to try and fix the situation. Which is terrific, and laudable, and one of the many reasons why you are Awesome. It still makes me uncomfortable, though. I guess I can’t fully articulate why.

    2. Les


      I understand why Rob wrote the list, and while I understand Amy’s points above, I too see Emily’s view having taught for over 20 years, and having countless “big” breakthroughs, AAB prize (first composer), then came other prizes performances at well known venues etc. but what I see as I get older is that the situation, despite all of our “feelings” that it has improved, has not. When major symphony orchestras program whole seasons without the inclusion of one women, something is “off”. Frankly, and not to risk offending my male composer friends, I may actually know more terrific living composers that happen to be women then I can think of that happen to be men. The fact is is that society and those in society trust, respect etc. men more than women. I remember when I first started teaching hearing young women say, we don’t have to call ourselves “feminists” as we have won our right to be respected, now stop and look around, what is happening out there, the ugliness of old (sorry Joe, and Rob) white men voting in state legislatures to take away long held rights. Things are not only NOT going forward they are going backwards. Maybe this list isn’t important but continuing a conversation about how many fantastic composers are out there who happen to be women, is a good conversation. Groups, listen to works by these composers, don’t aim for programming 1 or 2 a season, aim for programming half of your season with them. It won’t suffer because the music is GOOD, genuinely better than many of the male counterparts. Remember no one suffers through knowledge.

  21. Chris McGovern

    And I understand there’s still an issue about whether to single these people out as women composers, and I still think that that will be something we won’t have to do anymore as soon as female composers are more ingrained into the repertoire.

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  23. Mark Carlson

    A few more to add to your list:

    Elaine Barkin
    Sharon Farber
    Tania Gabrielle French
    Vera Ivanova
    Laura Karpman
    Kathryn Mishell
    Maria Newman
    Alexandra Pierce
    Shirley Walker (deceased)
    Sharon Farber

  24. Marvin Rosen

    Rob, a great list, and I hope that you will continue adding new names in the future. I can send you lists of new names once in a while if you wish.

    For now, I am very happy to add a few more names to your list (mostly Eastern-Europian/Baltic Countries).
    Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Azerbaijan) http://www.sikorski.de/229/en/ali_zadeh_franghiz.html
    Victoria Borisova-Ollas (Russia/Sweden) http://www.borisova-ollas.com/
    Sylvie Bodorova (Czech Republic) http://www.bodorova.cz/en/index.php
    Zulema de la Cruz (Spain)  http://www153.pair.com/bensav/Compositeurs/Cruz.Z.html
    Johanna Doderer (Germany) http://www.doderer.at/de/home.html
    Dorothee Eberhardt (Germany) http://www.doroeberhardt.de/
    Maija Einfelde (Latvia) http://www.music.lv/Composers/Einfelde/default.htm
    Galina Grigorjeva (Ukraine/Estonia) http://klassikaraadio.err.ee/klassik/heliloojad/grigorjeva_bio_eng.htm
    Hanna Kulenty (Poland) http://www.hannakulenty.com/
    Ester Mägi (Estonia) http://www.emic.ee/ester-magi
    Victoria Poleva (Ukraine) http://www.anm.odessa.ua/mic/Poleva.html
    Teresa Procaccini (Italy) http://www.teresaprocaccini.it/tp/
    Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil (Poland) http://www.culture.pl/web/english/resources-music-full-page/-/eo_event_asset_publisher/eAN5/content/grazyna-pstrokonska-nawratil
    Marta Ptaszyńska (Poland) http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/composer/ptaszynska.html
    Weronika Ratusińska (Poland) http://www.ratusinska.eu/
    Indra Riše (Latvia) http://www.music.lv/Composers/Rise/default.htm
    Raminta Šerkšnytė (Lithuania) http://www.mxl.lt/serksnyte
    Mirjam Tally (Estonia) http://www.mirjamtally.com/Mirjam_Tally/Welcome.html
    Karmella Tsepkolenko (Ukraine) http://anm.odessa.ua/mic/Tsepkolenko.html
    Calliope Tsoupaki (Greece/Holland) http://www.calliopetsoupaki.com/


  25. Robert Swedberg

    Stella Sung. (Stellasung.com) I can’t believe she is not yet on these lists. She is major in Florida, as composer in residence at the Orlando Philharmonic – the first of any gender to have that distinction. Numerous orchestral and choral works, and her first opera in the works now – to be premiered at University of Michigan in 2013.

  26. Larry Fuchsberg

    Any such list should include the name of American composer Janika Vandervelde (janikavandervelde.com), whose life-affirming music stimulates both head and heart!

  27. Lisa Ragsdale

    Thank you Larry F. but I was going to add Janika Vandervelde also as well as Jocelyn Hagen (which I think I saw just a little above Janika) and Dawn Sonntag.
    Jocelyn and Janika are in Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN
    Dawn Sonntag is at Hiram College in northeastern OH
    And you left out Lisa Renee Ragsdale, out probably because I have not been composing my entire life only the last 32 + years(and I’m 61 now!)

    1. Lisa Renee Ragsdale

      I wrote a typo in 2012: I should have written “I’ve only been composing the last 23 years….” instead of 32 years. After a failed attempt at getting an MA in composition in 1980, I walked away from music to get a breath of fresh air and came back 9 years later. Poverty seems to have followed me however. No permanent website yet.

  28. Rain Worthington

    Rob, I was honored to be included on your list. Thanks so much for including my music.

    I joined the New York Women Composers organization in 1997 when I first began notating music for mixed instruments.

    As a self-taught composer, I was excited to join ALL the composers’ membership organizations that I learned about – AMC, ACF, NYWC, and later, IAWM. I eagerly looked forward to moving within this new cultural network, to exchange ideas with colleagues and listen to the wide variety of contemporary composition happening.

    A decade later I stepped up to serve as the Director of Development for the NYWC.

    The question has arisen from time to time, whether there is still a need for organizations devoted to the promotion of women composers and women’s concert music.

    With this, and a grant application, in mind, I did some informal research into the general representation ratios of women composers in such areas as radio broadcasts, grants and awards, and membership in the two big national composers’ membership organizations at the time: AMC and ACF.
    As I mentioned, this was a very informal research undertaking on my part. Personally, since I was aware of many women composers, I expected to encounter some discrepancies in the gender representation numbers, but thought it would not be that large a gap.

    I was shocked to find this wasn’t the case. Of the several months of radio broadcasts I surveyed from the four classical stations that I had randomly selected, the ratio of women composers’ music played was less than 1%.
    The ratio of women recognized in grant programs and awards that I looked at over the past decade was slightly larger, approximately 10-15%.

    But nothing came close to reflect the ratio of women’s membership in the national composer organizations which was about one-third women, to two-thirds men.

    While I don’t know why the discrepancies still exist in this day and age and in this country, I do know that it is certainly not because of any lack of quality of music being composed by women.

    It would be great if concert programs, radio broadcasts, grants and awards could more accurately reflect the overall gender ratio of composers actively working in the field, and yes, many composing high quality contemporary music.

    I absolutely agree with your statement that “It is only through awareness that one can identify that “excellent” music to begin with.”
    Increased awareness of contemporary women working in the field of composition is not a limitation, but an expansion of resources and knowledge. This provides an enrichment of perspective, rather than a reduction or narrowing.

    I commend you for initiating this list, and to the resulting discussion it has generated, including all the additional names posted in the comments.

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  35. J. Michael Bergstrom

    I heard on Latvian radio internet stream a piece called “Observation of Clouds” by Justė Janulytė. If she was mentioned above, I missed it. Her website address is http://www.janulyte.info/en/about/

    Thanks for the list. I saved the link to this article when it was posted to NMB against the day when I could devote my time to going through this list to hear the works of these composers (not the only list or subject I’m pursuing). Today I begin.

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  37. Adrienne Elisha

    Thank you for making the list of composers–and also for including me among them.
    What a great way to bring focus to this issue .
    As you have invited us to list others, here are some additional names of excellent composers:
    Yoshi Ando, Sungi Hong, Tonia Ko, Emily Koh, Fusun Koksal, Hana Kulenty, Cecelia Ore, Heather Stebbins, Mariana Ungureanu, and Ying Wang

  38. Margaret Lucy Wilkins

    Some of you might have come across my book, “Creative Music Composition: the Young Composer’s Voice” (Routledge, London & New York, 2006) in which I include some 90 music examples, of which c. 25 are by women composers.
    During my career, I’ve made an effort to include and champion the work of women composers.
    Over the years, I’ve noticed that men musicians champion other men musicians!
    We can judge ‘good’ music only by hearing it. We have to take a risk in listening to new or unfamiliar music, being prepared to experience something not quite so good, as well as encountering the brilliant gems.
    I recommend two Romanian composers, Livia Teodorescu and Michaela Stanculescu-Vosganian.
    Margaret Lucy Wilkins, British composer.

  39. Christina Rusnak

    Whether this list should even be necessary is an ongoing debate, but the reality is that HIStory is determined by those who document it. I don’t think the question is whether the musical product of composers who are women is high quality, or whether proportion of women composers is growing.
    It’s whether this subset of composers is being given the same level of consideration, of visibility, of exposure (the same discussion could be applied to composers of color or different ethnicity) as our more prominent male counterparts.

    I may still be emerging, but not for long….Christina Rusnak http://christinarusnak.com

    1. E

      Hello Christina R.

      “composers of .. different ethnicity”.
      I am an African composer who composes what one may call “Western Classical Music” although I know that pretty soon I will create more Western Classico-African tunes and may have to then describe myself as such. I am really keen to hear my music performed by people especially because so far only my composers’ tools and ears tell me what it sounds like – a human voice added to it might introduce something I am not aware of!

      I am keen to collaborate and contribute to the works of others – if they’d let me :-).
      Some of my music is here (https://musescore.com/sheetmusic?text=EDEWEDE) and I would like to keep in touch with you since I too describe myself humbly as an up-and-coming composer!

      Let me know…

  40. Thea

    I am composer working with the violin & electronics, based in the SF Bay Area and Berlin.
    A colleague suggested I write and request my name be added to your composers list.
    I’d be very be most appreciative.
    Thank you,
    Thea Farhadian

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