In the early twentieth century 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 often 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, and from the convent and the nappy-change table women began to compose.
Music journalist Rosalind Appleby takes a fresh look at Australia’s history and makes some startling discoveries about the contribution of women to Australian classical music. Women of Note puts together the missing pieces of history with well-researched snapshots of twenty women composers spanning the twentieth century to present day.
Published by Fremantle Press 2012
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‘This much-welcomed book profiles those women, largely unacknowledged, who stand as the major landmarks in the Australian musical landscape.’
John Davis, CEO Australian Music Centre,
President International Society for Contemporary Music
‘… the product of thorough research expressed in engaging writing that is enlightening without being didactic. Appleby is to be congratulated, along with the West Australian Department of Culture and the Arts and Fremantle Press, which were insightful enough to consider this project ‘worth the effort’.’ —Australian Book Review
Read entire review here.
‘The musical lives and survival stories of all the women featured in Women of Note are inspiring. One can almost believe anything is possible. At the very least women of all ages can find in it a variety of survival tips for women composers: remain a kid inside, try the fool-proof-mother’s method, adopt a missionary zeal, find religion or just a room of one’s own.’ — Jenny Game-Lopata in MSA Journal July 2013
‘Skilfully balancing information about the careers of featured composers with insightful information about their music this is a rewarding, timely read. VERDICT: FASCINATING AND INFORMATIVE’ — Courier Mail
‘… an important resource.’ — The Weekend Australian
‘This volume is not only important but comforting.’ — Quadrant
‘Appleby’s strong suit is undoubtedly her talent for relating the human joys and struggles of these female artists, facilitated by the the insights she gained during a two year period of one-on-one interviews with many of them. Her book succeeds above all as a collection of intimate biographical portraits – intensely personal and often moving – of a group of individuals who, though diverse in character, are united by their gender and their drive to ‘pluck music from the air’. Women of Note has filled an important gap in Australian music literature and might prove to be the pioneering book for more much-needed documentation in the field.’ — Ilario Colli Limelight Magazine June 2012
‘Women of Note is an enjoyable and informative read and you don’t need to be a music aficionado to understand it. Beautifully written… a nice balance of thoughtful commentary, personal stories and biographical information.’ — WritingWA recommended list, The West Australian, March 2012.