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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

If I ask you to tell me names of classical musicians you will probably say Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Chopin, Vivaldi or some other incredible names, but did you notice something a bit strange here? Where are the women? 

Isn’t it weird that you probably didn’t think of any female composers? 

That’s not because women weren’t involved in classical music but they weren’t really recognized and they were kind of  “erased” from history. Yes, women took part in classical music, but the fame was mostly destined to men. So let’s change that and discover five wonderful women that made history in music.

Anna Magdalena Bach

She was the second wife of Johann Sebastian Bach, and without her we wouldn’t understand some of Bach’s compositions. Anna helped Bach in his studies and finished some of his songs, because Bach was losing his vision towards the end of his life. Anna received a present from her husband that got really famous: “The little book of Anna Magdalena Bach” . It is a book with songs for piano dedicated to her.

She was splendid at piano and she was also a great singer. 

Chiquinha Gonzaga

She was an important Brazilian composer, pianist and conductor, if you want to know a bit more about Brazil’s musical history you certainly will see her.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, 1847, she made history by being the first Brazilian woman to conduct an orchestra and by composing the first carnaval’s march “Ó Abre Alas”. Chiquinha liked to mix the new with the erudite and the results of that are just amazing. 

Something truly amazing is that she coined the term “Maestrina” (the female term for conductor in Portuguese) because before it didn’t even exist in Portuguese. 

Maria Anna Mozart

Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl, was born in 1751 and was as talented as her younger brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They shared a similar musical style, but she managed to develop her own personal touch as she was a prolific piano player.

Unfortunately, when she got to the age 18 years old she wasn’t allowed to do public performances anymore. While her brother performed all across Europe, Maria Anna was told to stay at home and find herself a husband. Regardless of that, Wolfgang did recognize his sister’s talent because she had always been a reference for him. They used to exchange letters and in those Anna wrote some songs, but sadly it got lost in the time.

Clara Schumann

Clara was a child prodigy that influenced even men in her way of playing the piano: rooted in romanticism. Born in 1819, she composed songs mainly for the piano even though she was a bit insecure about composition, due to the fact that women composers at that time weren’t really taken seriously. 

Her husband, Robert Shumann, was also a famous musician, so she stayed in his shadow for most of her life. Unfortunately she didn’t get much support from her parents and husband so her career couldn’t go very far. 

Fanny Mendelssohn

Born in 1805, Fanny played piano, sang and composed. She is considered the first romantic woman composer, but her family didn’t support her career and she had to abandon her dream. However, even though she couldn’t do public performances she wrote lots of pieces and some of them were published as if they had been written by her brother Felix Mendelssohn (another famous musician). 

After she married Wilhelm Hensel, he organized some presentations at home so Fanny could perform. Unfortunately, it was only after her death that her songs were discovered and published correctly. 

A curious fact is that she once got a letter that complimented her playing by attesting that “she plays like a man”, which was to say that she was a good player even if in a truly sexist way. 


The article above was edited by Fernanda Miki Tsukase.

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Beatriz Tomagnini

Casper Libero '27

Studying journalism at Cásper Líbero College. I aim to inspire girls who love communications and writing to follow their dreams.