Songs by Women
Amongst the finest pieces written by female composers are some delicate and emotive songs. Regine Wieniawski writing under the name Poldowski composed the songs Cortege and Cythere for her neighbour and lifelong friend Octave Maus, Belgian art critic, lawyer and writer. On marrying a descendant of the 1st Duke of Marlborough in 1901 she became Lady Dean Paul, adopting British nationality. The early death of their first son devastated her and inspired some of her most feeling songs, which she often performed herself to her own piano accompaniment. The style of her songs reflects the clear influence of Claude Debussy.
The songs of Amy Beach remain popular today, in particular The Year's at the Spring and Three Browning Songs. Despite this, no single-composer song collection of her works has ever been compiled. Clara Schumann, too, wrote a number of beautiful songs, mostly composed in the earlier part of her career. (It was to her that husband Robert dedicated the lovers' hymn Widmung). If you're interested in her work, watch the 1947 film Song of Love starring Katharine Hepburn as Clara.
Enjoy our special playlist of songs written by women. Read more about both Clara Schumann and Amy Beach in our feature articles on these two talented women. Alternatively, you can read about 'the woman behind the man' with this feature on Ursula Wood, the second wife of Ralph Vaughan-Williams.