Skip to main content
11th May 2017

Professor Jeremy Llewellyn champions celebration of female composers

Academics including Professor Jeremy Llewellyn

From left to right: Dr Graham Griffiths, Dr Anastasia Belina-Johnson, Dr Shirley Thompson, Dr Carola Darwin, and Professor Jeremy Llewellyn (credit: BBC Radio 3)

Professor Jeremy Llewellyn, Lecturer in Music at Exeter College, is helping to champion the work of forgotten female composers in a BBC Radio 3 and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) collaboration.

BBC Radio 3 and the AHRC aim to bring long-overdue recognition to women whose musical genius has been confined to the pages of history, their compositions often hidden in archives, libraries or private collections for centuries, unheard since their first performance. Five academics, including Professor Llewellyn, have each nominated a female composer whose work deserves greater recognition. The BBC Orchestras and Choirs will record their work, which will premiere on BBC Radio 3 on International Women’s Day next year (8 March 2018).

Professor Llewellyn chose Marianna Martines (1744 – 1813), an Austrian composer, singer and pianist who enjoyed fame throughout Europe in her lifetime, but who has since had little recognition. She was a keyboard virtuoso and wrote extensively for her instrument, becoming a prodigy of Pietro Metastasio and several visiting composers. She attracted numerous illustrious musicians to her regular salons, with Mozart reported to have performed at one.

The other nominations came from Dr Graham Griffiths, Dr Shirley Thompson, Dr Anastasia Belina-Johnson, and Carola Darwin. Their respective nominations were: Leokadiya Kashperova (1872 – 1940), a Russian pedagogue and pianist who taught Stravinsky; Florence B Price (1887 – 1953), an esteemed African American symphonist; Augusta Holmès (1847 – 1903), a French-Irish writer of large-scale oratorios and operas; and Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868 – 1941), an Austrian whose works range from chamber music to orchestral tone-poems and oratorios.

All five academics have now been invited to choose a major, previously unrecorded work for the BBC Orchestras and Choirs to record for broadcast on Radio 3.

Edwina Wolstencroft, BBC Radio 3 Editor and Diversity Lead, said: “Radio 3 is committed to broadcasting remarkable music and culture, and celebrating high quality work. We are therefore very excited to embark on this ground-breaking project to bring incredible works by female composers, forgotten for years, to the large modern-day audiences they deserve. It is a privilege to help celebrate the musical genius of these women in its own right.”

Sarah Burgess, Portfolio Manager for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative Arts and Digital Humanities, said: “We are really excited to be working with the BBC on this important new project; it will provide a platform for fresh academic research to present the remarkable history and music of these forgotten female composers for rediscovery by today’s audiences.”

Share this article