A digital platform to introduce hundreds of forgotten musicians


From Francesca Caccini in the seventeenth century to today’s young literature … counts Digital platform The artworks of more than 700 composers defining female artists have long been denied the appreciation they deserve in the interest of their male counterparts.

The platform was called “Ask Clara”, referring to Clara Schuman, a musician the piano The creator, composer, and wife of the famous author Robert Schuman.

This database was launched in June at the initiative of a team led by Claire Bodin, director of the “Feminine Touches” festival. presence feminine Dedicated to musical compositions of the past and present.

“From a young age, we do not hear any signed works of music, or a few of these works reach us to the point that they are not stuck in the memory,” Bodan assures.

And she says, “We were taught from 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 (Sassim), 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), 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 or title of the desired work, or musical instrument, country or era.

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

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

This digital platform was accomplished thanks to the hard work that started in 2006, according to Boudan, who confirms that this was not done to “ride a prevailing wave” at present.

“It is not intended to rewrite history, but to enrich the music library,” Bowden explains, adding, “These works cannot 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, notes 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. Rarely any of those present during it can 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, in addition to 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 shows to develop works for female authors, because invited artists will be reluctant to perform these compositions if they are not confident that other halls do the same.”

The “Feminine Touches” 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 29-year-old young woman Kami Biban, who this year became the first 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 writers in the general music scene is also passing through the conservatory.

Last year, Kami Biban said in an interview with AFP that she was the only girl in music composition classes at the Conservatory of Paris. But she made it clear that “the teachers I met today and the young authors want to change the situation. There are deep-rooted beliefs that are starting to fall.”

(France Brush)


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