Rediscovering Louise Farrenc

The rediscovery of music by women and composers of color continues with David Allen’s survey in The New York Times of the life and works of the 19th-century French composer Louise Farrenc:

As is so often the case in these rediscoveries, the composers’ music doesn’t necessarily reflect their ethnic backgrounds or presumed gender characteristics.

Farrenc (1804-75) began her composing career writing piano showpieces and miniatures, which would have been thought appropriate for a woman of her era. In time, she turned to larger-scaled, more complex and turbulent pieces – three symphonies, two concert overtures, a widely praised Nonet and other chamber works – that even blinkered critics of the time recognized as comparable in quality and character to the music of male contemporaries such as Mendelssohn and Schumann.

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