Over the past few months, musicians have been carefully rethinking their work; the pandemic has forced artists to develop in a completely new direction. The internet has proved a splendid alternative platform. We have witnessed new online concert series’, master classes, workshops, and for teachers, copious online lessons. I’ve enjoyed performances from international artists, many of whom have been broadcasting from their living room. The Wigmore Hall and other favourite venues have recently joined the fold, offering engaging concert series’ with a difference, that is, no ‘live’ audience.
Amidst this new approach, some artists have devised their own platforms intended to highlight particular corners of the repertoire. Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt has recorded an interesting series of lockdown performances, broadcast on Twitter (@HewittJSB), entitled Masterclasses. She has recorded over 60 very short, often educational, piano gems writen by a variety of composers. Inspired by Angela’s series, Japanese pianist Yuki Negishi and I have also devised a piano series which will feature small pieces written by female composers, or Piano Music by Women.
Over the past few years, female composers have been enjoying a renaissance – or is it that they have finally been given a voice? Like many, I’ve written about the importance of women in music on several occasions, and most recently in this article published last November by Music Teacher Magazine (The Female Canon. Educational Piano Pieces by Female Composers), which spotlights female composers throughout history, or, more specifically, since the Seventeenth Century.
Yuki frequently features female composers in her concert programmes already, and, therefore, this concept was a natural development for her. The series started earlier this week, and every day (except Sundays), Yuki will perform a short piano work written by a selection of female composers. The recordings will be posted on YouTube and social media (on Twitter and Instagram), with the intention of bringing to the fore the colossal wealth of music composed by women.
Piano Music by Women began with an attractive selection of small pieces by Amy Beach, Louise Farrenc, Florence Price, and Kay Cavendish (several are linked below). The series aims to juxtapose much-loved composers like Maria Szymanowska, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Clara Schumann, with more Contemporary choices, such as Karen Tanaka and Sofia Gubaidulina.
Yuki has also been kind enough to include two of my little pieces; In A Daze and Dancing Through The Daffodils. I wrote In A Daze a while ago, very quickly whilst at the piano. You can hear it by clicking the link below. It’s an atmospheric work employing colourful harmonies. Being fairly simple, probably suitable for those of around Grade 1 – 2 level, it would be ideal for students who want to explore a wider tonal palette, and who wish to use the sustaining pedal to create a wonderfully resonant sound.
Dancing Through The Daffodils (you can also hear this piece by clicking the second link below) was written for those of around Grade 5 – 6 standard. An energetic little piece, it serves as a useful study for developing the all-important inner pulse. Dancing Through The Daffodils comes from a set of 12 intermediate pieces called No Words Necessary, and you can find out more about the volume, here).
You can follow Piano Music by Women series, here:
YouTube: Yuki Negishi
Instagram: Yuki Negishi
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
For more information, please visit the publications page, here.