We Set the Tone: Equal Opportunities For Women Composers

This three-year project started in 2019 with the focus on choral works by women composers, and entered its final phase in 2021.

Collecting and preserving works by female composers, and sharing them with the music-loving public, so they can then be performed, heard, and researched, has been the main goal of the Archiv Frau und Musik since its foundation in 1979. It is precisely this gap in the areas of competence in musicological gender research, mediation, and concert practices that the archive seeks to close through the Equal Opportunities for Women Composers project. By networking all three areas, the archive promotes the exchange, flow, and preservation of information, thus facilitating access to systematically stored and processed knowledge about women composers for researchers, educators, and music makers alike.

The Archiv Frau und Musik holds numerous early and late bequests of women composers, including Barbara Heller (born 1936), Tsippi Fleischer (born 1946), Violeta Dinescu (born 1953) and Felicitas Kukuck (1914–2001). These are to be processed for scholars and the public within the framework of the project. Central to this is clear positioning of the archivewithin the cultural and educational landscape of the city of Frankfurt, as is the exchange with other institutions in the field of musicological women’s and gender studies, both nationwide and internationally.

Focus of collection

In order to be able to give concrete impulses to musicians, concert organisers, and researchers, the archive concentrated on one collection focus each year:

  • 2019: Choral works by woman composers
  • 2020: Works for children and young people, as well as pedagogical material for schools and music lessons
  • 2021: Works for string instruments

The archive’s existing holdings in these categories will be processed through user-friendly, informative repertoire lists, and expanded through new acquisitions.

In the third year of the project, works for string instruments by women composers, in any instrumentation and of any size, but especially string quartets, were collected. Further accompanying material, like posters and programme booklets from concerts with a predominance of works for string instruments, or publications on women composers who wrote works for string instruments in particular, will supplement the collection. In addition, exchange meetings were held with multipliers, in order to integrate representatives of music practice with their expert knowledge into the project, and so as to conceptually promote concerts with works by women composers. Individual finds from the archive’s pre-compositions and estates will be presented in academic journals and at conferences.

The project is also particularly aimed at the younger generation (young researchers, young women composers, schoolchildren), who are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the music of women, to learn it and engage with it, and finally to make music and to research it themselves. In this way, all users are invited to contribute as multipliers of equal opportunities for women composers.

The project Equal Opportunities for Women Composers is funded by the Mariann Steegmann Foundation.