Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music

Author(s): Anna Beer

Music | No Category

SOUNDS AND SWEET AIRS reveals the hidden stories of eight remarkable composers, taking the reader on a journey from seventeenth-century Medici Florence to London in the Blitz.

Exploring not just the lives and works of eight exceptional artists, historian Anna Beer also asks tough questions about the silencing of their legacy, which continues to this day. Why do we still not hear masterpieces such as Hensel’s piano work "The Year," Caccini’s arias and Boulanger’s setting of Psalm 130?

A long-overdue celebration of neglected virtuosos,SOUNDS AND SWEET AIRS presents a complex and inspirational picture of artistic endeavour and achievement that deserves to be part of our cultural heritage.

The featured composers are Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Marianna Martines, Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn), Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger and Elizabeth Maconchy.


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'This is a truly inspiring and fascinating book... Female composers today no longer need to feel there is anything to stop them creating music and forging a career as a composer - if there is still any doubt, then just read Sounds and Sweet Airs.' -- Debbie Wiseman MBE - Classic FM's Composer in Residence 'A fascinating and refreshing rescue of a few well-chosen exemplars from the worthy but dull hands of musicologists. Anna Beer brings her telling selection of creative women to vivid life as she explores how they and their music fared... Thrilling.' -- Natalie Wheen, former presenter on BBC Radio and Classic FM 'This book is a delight. Eight striking composers are reinstated in musical history, thanks to Anna Beer's energetic research and lively writing.' -- Professor Nicola LeFanu, Department of Music, University of York 'A fascinating glimpse into the world of the women whose music we should know and be hearing in the canon.' -- Charlotte Bray, winner of the Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize 2014 and composer of At the Speed of Stillness 'Elegantly written, Sounds and Sweet Airs offers compelling evidence of the prejudices against women composers' aspirations across the centuries.' -- Rhian Samuel, Composer and Professor Emeritus, City University London 'An important book... groundbreaking and entertaining... This book should be required reading not just for those interested in cultural history, but for anyone wishing to understand the perception of women in the modern era.' -- Professor Steven Parissien - Director, Compton Verney 'Anna Beer's eloquent and passionately argued narrative builds on the most up-to-date scholarship and makes an irresistible case for listening again to the work of women who were among the most admired musicians of their age. Much more than simply an attempt to balance the historical record, Sounds and Sweet Airs is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand music's power and the politics of gender and sexuality that promoted, shaped and silenced women's compositional careers from the Renaissance to the twentieth century.' -- Professor Daniel Grimley, Merton College, Oxford

Anna Beer is a cultural historian, and the author of biographies of Milton and Lady Bess Raleigh. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford. She lives in Oxford, England.

General Fields

  • : 9781780748566
  • : Oneworld Publications
  • : Oneworld Publications
  • : 0.524
  • : November 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Anna Beer
  • : Hardback
  • : 304