In twentieth century Australia being a female composer was a dangerous game. One composer was diagnosed as mentally insane by her psychiatrist husband, several achieved success only after their divorces, and for others the only way to get their music published was to lie about their gender. Still, the allure of writing music enticed women from all walks of life.
From the convent and the nappy-change table, women began to compose. Now 25% of Australia’s composers are women, more than almost any other country in the world.

Listen to a selection of compositions at the following YouTube links:

Composer: Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Work: Drama for Orchestra
Composer: Elena Kats-Chernin, Work: Eliza’s Aria
Composer: Cat Hope, Work: In The Cut
Each of the women featured in this book was so passionate about their music that they pursued their goals to the detriment of their personal lives. They were Australian pioneers. Using chapters from the book Women of Note, consider the contribution they have made not only to twentieth-century music but also to the role of women in Australian society.

Download the complete teaching activity.
For school presentations contact the author at rosalindappleby(at)

History Year 10
The Modern World and Australia
Depth study 3: The globalising world Students investigate one major global influence that has shaped Australian society in depth, including the development of the global influence during the twentieth century. Students study ONE of these electives: Popular culture or
The environment movement or Migration experiences.
Popular culture (1945–present)The nature of popular culture in Australia at the end of World War II, including music, film and sport (ACDSEH027)
Australia’s contribution to international popular culture (music, film, television, sport) (ACDSEH123)
Continuity and change in beliefs and values that have influenced the Australian way of life (ACDSEH149)

 Source ACARA v5 2013

 Buy Women of Note                         Women of Note teaching activity