Feb 29Liked by Leah Broad

An new production of Der Wald is upcoming at Wuppertal Opera House in April 2024

Expand full comment
Sep 9, 2023Liked by Leah Broad

I’ve just started reading your Quartet book this weekend, I love reading about unsung composers! I’ll have to have a listen to Der Wald this weekend. Great to hear the BBC Singers as well after this year’s controversies.

Expand full comment

I hope you enjoy the book, thank you for reading it ☺️ let me know what you think of Der Wald!

Expand full comment
Sep 10, 2023Liked by Leah Broad

Reading the introduction to your book reminded me of an anecdote from a few weeks ago:

I decided to have a flick through this reference book I bought a few years ago. Published in 2018 (my edition 2020), it gives a brief overview of about 60 composers and 400 works. Written by a qualified writer and published by a reputable publisher. It’s about 900 pages in total, a giant paperback tome.

Can you guess what I’m about to say?

There was not a single mention of a female composer and her work anywhere in this 900 page book. (Note: Some like Clara Schumann were listed in the index, but the only mentions of her name were in relation to Robert - none of her music was featured. No mention of Price, Beach or others)

For me, this was a bit of an eye opener. And I think this perfectly captures what you said in your book about historical erasure and convenient forgetting. While we may (hopefully) be past the period where players would balk if a work by a female composer was placed on their stand, the fact that you can publish a whole book on classical music without mentioning a female composer once (and no one bats an eyelid) is evident of the continued bias against women in music.

A quote on the back cover reads: “the scale is breathtaking, the choice both comprehensive and representative […] the scholarship is profound, perceptive and concise”.

Comprehensive and representative? Excuse me!

Of course the author is allowed to choose his own canon of composers, but it would have been easy to slot in a reference to an unsung “minority” composer that may spark some investigatory action. Especially since this book is aimed towards music listeners and audience members, not players, it could have attempted to start a demand for these lesser known pieces to be performed more widely. Try to break the misconception that any piece by a minority composer in a programme is a “token gesture”, or a “forced inclusion”, or that you are “rewriting history” by performing Price or others, or any of the other bizarre and prejudiced excuses that have been used.

The classical music world is inherently conservative and built on legendary canons of composers, familiar repertoire and tradition. The role of historical musicological studies should be to shine a new light on lesser known areas of this world. It’s not “rewriting history” and that’s such a cop-out excuse for a reluctance to open our minds to new information. Would be interested to hear your thoughts? : )

Expand full comment

Oof yes I definitely have thoughts about this! Obviously my perspective is that musicologists have a responsibility to analyse how the canon has formed, and redress historical biases by paying attention to music that has been historically marginalised. Which is the reference book, out of interest? Thank you for reading Quartet!

Expand full comment