“Ask Clara” … a digital platform that celebrates unknown music

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From Francesca Caccini in the seventeenth century to young literature today, a digital platform counts artworks from over 700 composers to introduce artists who have long been denied recognition.

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 at the initiative of a team led by Claire Bodin, director of the “Prezense Feminine” (feminine touches) festival devoted to musical literature from the past and the present.

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

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 opera, and Isabella Leonarda and Barbara Strutzi, one of the first professional writers, as well as the French Elizabeth Jacques Dolagher.

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.

This digital platform was made possible thanks to hard work that started in 2006, according to Bodan, who confirms that this was not done to “ride a prevailing wave” currently.

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