A digital platform for introducing the works of 700 forgotten artists across generations


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                From Francesca Caccini in the seventeenth century to young literature today ... A digital platform that counts the artworks of more than 700 composers to introduce female artists has always been denied the appreciation they deserve in the interest of their male counterparts.

                                    <p>The platform was called "Ask Clara", referring to Clara Schuman, the creative pianist, composer and wife of the famous author Robert Schuman.

This database was launched in June 2020 at the initiative of a team led by Claire Baudin, director of the “Priznes Feminine” (feminine touches) festival devoted to musical literature from the past and the present.

“From a young age, we do not hear any signed musical works from literature, or we get so few of these works that they are not stuck in the memory,” Bodan asserts.

And she says, “We have been taught since childhood the idea that musical genius is the creation of great male authors always, without ever questioning the outcome of the literature.”

This digital platform is funded by the Association of Authors, Composers and Music Producers (Sasim), and it has counted at least 4,662 works from the signature of 770 authors from 60 nationalities, from 1618 to 2020.

The site plans to include 4,000 additional works in the fall, among them pieces by Heidegaard von Bingen (1098-1179) who is a saint in the Catholic Church and one of the first known works.

Searches are performed on the platform by entering the name of the author, the title of the desired work, the instrument, the country or the era.

Among the earliest published works on the site are: Francesca Caccini, the first woman to write an operatic work, and Isabella Leonarda and Barbara Strutzi, one of the first professional books, as well as the French Elizabeth Jacques de la Gere.

The platform also includes a large number of literature from English-speaking countries, “and it is much more advanced in this area,” according to Bodan.

Enriching the music library

And this digital platform could be accomplished thanks to the hard work that started in 2006, according to Bodan, who confirms that this was not done to “ride a prevailing wave” currently.

“It is not intended to rewrite history, but to enrich the” musical “library,” Budan said. “These works should not be illuminated simply because they are signed by women and to satisfy our conscience, but because they have real artistic value.”

The female musician, who stopped her music career to devote himself to these projects, indicates that the lack of use of works of musical compositions in events and art festivals constitutes a major obstacle to its spread.

About a decade ago, Bodan regularly held conferences on the topic and rarely any of the attendees could name any of the literature except for a small handful of the most famous among them, such as Clara Schuman, Fannie Mendelssohn and Lily Polange as well as Betsy Julas and Kaya Sariaho.

She points out that party organizers face “restrictions related to the necessity of filling the hall”, which generally imposes reliance on the works of top music composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Bach.

“What we see is only the tip of the iceberg,” Bodan says. “Even for men there are many authors who deserve to be highlighted.”

She stresses, “It is necessary for everyone in their musical programs to put works of works because invited artists will be reluctant to perform these compositions if they are not confident that other halls do the same.”

The Prizmins Feminin festival was postponed to October after it was scheduled for last March.

Since its launch, the festival has sponsored seven works of literature, one of which was signed by Kami Biban, 29, who this year became the first female composer to win a “Victoire” award for classical music.

For the 2021 edition, the festival launched a competition to create a musical story for young people. It was won by Cecil Boucher, superior to 15 books.

Bodan noted that the improvement of the position of female authors in the general music scene is also passing through the conservatory.

In an interview with AFP last year, Kami Biban said that she was the only girl in music composition classes at the Conservatory of Paris.

But she made it clear that “the teachers I meet today and the young authors want to change the situation. There are deep-rooted beliefs that are starting to fall.”



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