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July 3

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.


1709 translator asks what disadvantage is women's learning

Modern classical women performers make their own rules


QUOTES by John Cotton, Christine Ammer, Jean Eichelberger Ivey

Posted 1999

1709 translator asks what disadvantage is women's learning

      In 1709 England the self-taught - as if there was really another way for most women in those days - Elizabeth Elstob translated a medieval work which she prefaces with the apology:
"I know it will be said, What has a woman to do with learning...
      "Where is the fault in women seeking after learning? Why are they not to be valued for acquiring to themselves the noblest ornaments? What hurt can this be to themselves? What disadvantage to others?
      "But there are two things usually opposed against women's learning: that it makes them impertinent, and neglect their household affairs.
      "I do not observe it so frequently objected against women's diversions, that they take them off from household affairs..."
      She was 26 at the time of the translation.

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Modern classical women performers make their own rules

      ''I'm not some old fat man. Why should I dress like one?''
            -- Canadian Violinist Lara St. John, who has been described as costumed in "discreet nudity." Her Bach CD sold 20,000+ copies although the critics claim the photo picture of her "barely dressed" pose was the reason!... Regardless of the fact that St. John is a known and respected violinist.
      In the same article that examined the "sexiness" of today's women in classical music (whom the writer refers to as girls), Eve Beglarian of the noted Hildegurls that features the music of Hildegaarde von Bingen, said,
''Most girl groups were put together by Svengalilike producers. They're put together by guys to serve (their) fantasy of multiple lesbian partners, to put it crudely. None of us are thinking in that way. The way that it's sexy belongs to us."
      ''Female groups tend to be more socially bonded,''
says cellist Diane Chaplin of the excellent all-woman Colorado String Quartet that had men as substitutes while regular members were on pregnancy lead. However, they found guys kept work and play too separate.
''We go to dinner together. We have keys to each other's houses,'' Chaplin explained. The result is often a distinctive musical statement, whether it's a fresh subtext found in a Brahms string quartet or, as in the case of Bimbetta, a twist that turns Henry Purcell's 17th-century song "What Can We Poor Females Do?" into a lament about premature ejaculation.
      ''When we allow ourselves to move freely on stage . . . it has a deeper impact (on the music), and a liberating one,''
says Bimbetta member Sonja Rasmussen. ''One critic said we're part of the crumbling of Western civilization. That's the largest impact that has been attributed to us.'' Others say their superior musicianship allows them carte blanche with visuals.
      Says Chaplin,
''Mischa Schneider (of the legendary Budapest String Quartet) once said, 'I used to tell women students to play like men. Now I tell male students to play more like women!' ''
            -- Excerpted from USA TODAY. 04-16-1998, article by David Patrick Stearns.

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B. 07-03-1709, Wilhelmina, Sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia and margravine of Bayreuth (from 1735). Extremely close to her powerful brother, Wilhelmina acted as his eyes and ears in the south of Germany. She, along with her husband, attempted to change the area around the city of Beyreuth into a "little Versailles" with a new opera house and founding of a university. Beyreuth would become the site of great music festivals in later years, including the world renowned Wagnerian Beyreuth Festival.

B. 07-03-1796, Maria Martin, only woman of the three assistants of naturalist painter James Audubon. She did the background work on most of the drawings of Birds of America and other plates. She may have done some of the birds themselves. Her specialty was very realistic and accurate fauna. We often overlook the fact that Audubon was the head of a studio and not the sole artist of the works carrying his name - as were the Currier and Ives prints, some of which were done by women. Some of MM's work may also be found in Edwards Holbrook's North American Herpetology, 1836 1842.

B. 07-03-1853, Maria Nikolayevna Yermolova - Russian dramatic actor. Stanislavsky said MNY was the greatest actor he had ever seen. Her 50-year career emphasized strong and spirited women who defied corrupt authority.
      She held the Moscow theater together by sheer will and talent during the Revolution and in 1920 was the first actor to receive an honors from the Soviet Union.

B. 07-03-1860, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, prominent U.S. feminist, intellectual, and writer. She wrote the influential Women and Economics (1898) and The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) - the latter an autobiographical insight into a woman's descent into depression to a nervous breakdown from emotional and intellectual starvation.
      She wrote and edited the feminist journal, The Forerunner.
      She was raised in poverty after her father abandoned the family. After marrying, she was diagnosed as temperamentally unsuited for marriage when she had a nervous breakdown. However, in addition to the lack of intellectual stimulation, her husband was an adulterer of many women, including her close friends.
      Her second marriage lasted 34 years. What she was more unsuited for? Housework or a two-timing man? Once she hired domestic help that freed her to write and do activist work with the feminist and peace movements her "nervous" temperament vanished.
      She committed suicide at age 75 stating she preferred "a quick easy death in place of a slow and horrible one," after a three-year battle with breast cancer. She had just completed her autobiography The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1935).

B. 07-03-1871, Ida B. Wise Smith, longtime president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union beginning in 1933. She was a minister with the Church of Christ.

B. 07-03-1873, Frances Stern, U.S. dietitian and social worker. FS did important work regarding diet for the poor and recognizing the effect of diet on poverty. She maintained that each member of the family unit should be given expert food guidance correlated with her/his medical treatment and with the needs of her/his economic and social life.

B. 07-03-1901, Ruth Crawford (Seeger) - U.S. composer and American folklorist. RC was the first woman composer to win a Guggenheim Fellowship (1930) to study in Paris and Berlin.
      Her composing style included such modern techniques as tone clusters, serialism, heterophony, and diverse metrical patterns. She married and because of the heavy demands on her by the birth of her four children plus the raising of her husband's three children from an earlier marriage, she stopped composing. and began transcribing American folk songs from the collection of field recordings in the Library of Congress as well as writing piano accompaniments.
      She made musical arrangements for Carl Sandburg's The American Song Bag. She was musical editor of Our Singing Country by Lomax for which she transcribed more than 200 songes in field research. She made an astounding 6,000+ transcriptions of American folksongs from field recordings stored in the Library of Congress, and then composed more than 300 piano accompaniments for the songs.
      Her Three Songs was recorded in 1978 by Speculum Musicae, New World Label #285. Her String Quartet_is her most performed and noted work, Nonesuch label 71280, Columbia CMS-6142.
      Her widowed mother ran a rooming house to support her two children. One of her step-children was the noted folk singer Pete Seeger who never gave his stepmother much credit for his education or success.
      RCS returned to composing and won the National Association for American composers competition with her Suite for Wind Quintet (1952) the year before her death. Gradually her original compositions are becoming recognized as truly important.

B. 07-03-1908, M.F.K. Fisher - U.S. author who developed the art of food and eating in her noted essays. She is best known for her The Art of Eating (1954- 1990). "Our three basic needs, for food and security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others," she said. MFK wrote several autobiographical works Sister Age (1983) and Long Ago in France (1991).

B. 07-03-1912, Elizabeth Taylor, British author who excelled in describing the basic loneliness of her characters in ordinary middle-class life. She is noted for her precise using of the language. Probably her most famous work is The Wedding Group (1968).

B. 07-03-1923, Jean Eichelberger Ivey - U.S. composer.
      In spite of her father who operated an anti-feminist newspaper which went broke and who opposed education for women, JEI went to college on a full scholarship, then studied at Peabody and Eastman School of Music, getting her Ph.D. in composition (1972).
      Although she prefers voice, she is best known for her pioneering work in electronic music. She gave the first workshop for the new medium. Her best known works are Pinball (Folkways records FMS 3/3436), Hera, Hung from the Sky combines taped and live performances and inspired by poem by Carolyn Kizer (Composers Recording, Inc. CRI-SD 325, Garden [1961]), and Testament of Eve (1974). (See quote below.)

B. 07-03-1941, Gloria Rachel Allred - California attorney who specializes in women's issues.

B. 07-03-1944, Geraldine Chaplin - U.S. actor who began a busy career in supporting roles after her first movie Dr. Zhivago (1965). She made a number of movies in France. She is the daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill and was raised primarily in Europe.

B. 07-03-1947, Betty Buckley - U.S. actor and singer. BB is most noted for bringing the house down with her rendition of "Memories" in the long running Broadway musical Cats. She had starred in a number of other plays and is considered one of the premier stage actors on Broadway.

B. 07-03-1957, Laura Brannigan - U.S. popular singer. Her first recording "Gloria" (1982) was one of the longest- running hit singles of the decade, and was her only hit to date.

Event 07-03-1984: U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that Jaycees may be forced to accept women as full members. Lost in all the discussions regarding such decisions that some say infringes on men's rights is the constant refrain that public institutions MUST not be discriminatory against a certain group, class, race, or sex.

Event 07-03-1989: The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services which upheld the rights of a state to impose significant restrictions on abortion.

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      "...The if there must be a Singing, one alone must sing, not all (or if all), the men only, and not the women. And their reason is: Because it is not permitted to a woman to speak in the Church, how then shall they sing? Much less is it permitted to them to phrophecy in the Church. And singing the Psalms is a kind of Prophecying."
            -- Rev. John Cotton, 1647.

      "At least two ambitious surveys of American music were undertaken by commercial record company, yet the only woman composer represented on any of several dozen records issues was Mrs. H. H. A. Beach. The implication was that there had been no other women composers ... (later the author was asked to introduce an all woman win quintet and found no reference material.) The implication was that there had been no women instrumentalists. Bu here, at least, ther was a perceived discrepancy. The school orchestras in which our children play invariably include as many or more girls than boys, whereas the symphony orchestras we see consist predominantly of men.
      "...Research showed that women indeed have been writing and performing music for as long as men have. But, owing to the social climate of earlier times, their work went unnoticed, unpublished, unperformed, and was quickly forgotten."
            So begins Unsung, A History of Women in American Music By Christine Ammer. Greenwood Press, 1980. ISBN 0-313-22007-7.

      In explaining her Testament to Eve, Jean Eichelberger Ivey (bio above) said, "To me as a woman, it is of special interest that in this myth, a woman make the choice. SHE CHOOSES KNOWLEDGE AND GROWTH, AS OPPOSED TO REMAINING A PAMPERED PET FOREVER IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN. [Emphasis WOA author] And Eve, whose name traditionally means 'Mother of All The Living' makes this choice not for herself alone but for Adam and her children and all the human race to come. She is very like Prometheus; and yet while Prometheus is usually seen as heroic, Eve in a patriarchal culture was often dismissed as silly, sensual, bad."

Advice to "Musical Misses":

"Sit in a simple, graceful unconstrained posture. Never turn up the eyes or swing about the body; the expression you meant to give will never be understood by those foolish motions ... However loud you wish to be, never thump ... Aim more at pleasing than astonishing ... Never bore people with ugly music merely because it is the work of some famous composer, and do not let the pieces you perform ... be too long."
            -- Harper's Magazine, September, 1851.

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