Women Composers
Here you can find all information about our women composers: biographies, lists of their compositions and photos.


Elfrida Andrée
* 19.02.1841 in Visby
† 11.01.1929 in Göteborg
Elfrida Andrée, Swedish organist and composer, was born in Visby, Feb. 19, 1841, and died in Göteborg, Jan. 11, 1929. Like her sister, the important opera singer Fredricka Stenhammar, she had her first instruction in music from her father. She studied composition with Ludwig Norman at the Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm, and later took lessons with Niels Gade in Copenhagen.
At the same time, she studied telegraphy and was the first woman telegraph operator in Sweden. She was a keen supporter of the suffragette movement. In 1867 she was appointed organist at the Göteborg Cathedral. She established a series of popular concerts and presented about 800 programs. In consideration for her achievements, she was elected a member of the Swedish Academy of Music. She was a pioneer among Swedish women as an organist and composer. She wrote four symphonies, a Swedish Mass, which had frequent performances. Her numerous organ works include two "symphonies", one with wind instruments. Her style reflected the ideas of the Leipzig school and the Scandinavian nationalism of her day. In addition to this string quartet, she composed a piano quintet, two sonatas and several "Romances" for violin and piano, and a piano quartet.


Sonata for violin and piano

Gabriela Proy
* 25.02.1965 in Wien
Gabriela Proy wurde am 25.03.1965 in Wien geboren. Von 1983-1985 studierte sie Philosophie an der Universität Wien und von 1984-1987 Komposition an der Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wien (Neumann, Urbanner). Von 1987-1992 absolvierte sie die InstrumentallehrerInnenausbildung für Gitarre an der Hochschule für Musik Wien (Hein, Schneider) und erhielt das Lehrbefähigungsdiplom mit einstimmiger Auszeichnung.
Seit 1988 beschäftigt sie sich mit graphischer Notation und aktueller Musik, gab eine Vielzahl von Konzerten, Performances, Ausstellungen und Installationen. Sie nahm an verschiedenen Meisterkursen, Symposien und Tagungen teil, u.a. am 'Kärntner Meisterkurs der IGNM für Aktuelle Musik' und am 'Open-Circuit', ein Round Table zu Kunst und Mediensystemen in der Steiermark. Seit 1992 studiert Gabriela Proy Elektroakustik und Experimentelle Musik an der Hochschule für Musik Wien (Kaufmann, Ungvary).


Annäherung VI - an sieben Komponistinnen

Memorial days

Madame Ravissa de Turin
* 30.11.1744
† 20.02.1807
Details of the life of a virtually unknown composer Madame Ravissa de Turin, tresse de Clavecin et de Chant Italien is the inscription on the edition of Genovieffa Ravissa six harpsichord sonatas printed in Paris in 1778. It is only recently that details of her life have become known.
Madame Ravissa was baptised Genovieffa Bernardina Maria Vignola between 1745 and 1750. Her parents, who were employed at the royal court in Turin, were Gioanni Vignola and Gionna Battista Colombatta. Genovieffa married the Turin goldsmith Cristofaro Ravissa on 14 August 1764. The couple had four children who were born between 1768 and 1776. As Cristofaro's business went badly, the family's entire possessions, including their house and business premises, were auctioned in 1777. Genovieffa's father thereupon paid for a carriage for his daughter and she travelled to Paris, presumably with her entire family. The first edition of the harpsichord sonatas op. 1 printed here appeared in 1778. On 25 March of the same year she performed two Italian arias at the Concert Spirituel. At the same time she appears to have been greatly sought after as a teacher of "Clavecin" and "Chant Italien". Although relatively brief, the family's stay in Paris was obviously so successful that their financial situation recovered. On returning to Turin Cristofaro resumed his business activities. Genovieffa gave a harpsichord recital at Turin's Teatro Carignano on 9 June 1780. The couple also separated, however, in the same year. While Cristofaro remained in Turin, Genovieffa moved to Neuchâtel, where she was registered as a "musician" as of November 1780. Here, too, she soon found her feet, teaching in the homes of the town's nobility and also finding employment for a season playing the harpsichord in the orchestra of Neuchâtel’s highly active Societé de la Salle de Musique. Following the birth of her illegitimate daughter Frédérique-Elise, Genovieffa left the town in 1791. She was given an excellent testimonial which emphasised her successful pedagogical work. Although Genovieffa's stated destination was Madrid, the records show that she was already resident in Lausanne, together with her children Francois (born Francesco in 1768) and Frédérique-Elise, in December of the same year. There are also records from Lausanne of her teaching activities among the nobility and of recitals in private salons. There are many references to this effect in the diary of Angletine Charrière de Sévery. Genovieffa Ravissa died in Lausanne on 20 February 1807.


Six Sonatas pour le Clavecin op. 1 Sonaten I-III
Six Sonatas pour le Clavecin op. 1 Sonaten IV-VI

Isabella Leonarda
* 06.09.1620
† 25.02.1704
In northern Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a good deal of music was composed by women. One of the most productive composers was the noblewoman Isabella Leonarda. She left almost 200 compositions in 20 volumes including mostly sacred vocal music such as motets for soloist and continuo as well as a mass for soloists, choir, strings and continuo.
Her only purely instrumental opus is no. 16 which is made up of the 12 sonate da chiesa. These works were used in the celebration of the Catholic Mass. Why did a 73-year-old woman nun and composer, La Sorella Isabella, diverge from her usual compositional habits (the composition of vocal music) and start to write a new kind of music? We will never know, but maybe she was encouraged by the honour accorded to her by the church when she became Madre Vicaria of her convent. The sonatas were written in the same year that she was named to that office. (In the original edition the words Con licenza de Superiori can be found, meaning that the church had permitted these works to be written!) The Opus 16 sonatas are among the first instrumental pieces written by a woman. This fact was probably not known to Isabella Leonarda herself. Perhaps the composer was interested in writing music without texts as a contrast to all her vocal works, or maybe she was just eager to try out the "new" trio sonata style? Compared with contemporary composers (e.g. Corelli) her sonatas are longer, sometimes containing six movements rather than the usual four. She was also more generous than some with modulations, using a large number of related keys within the same sonata. Leonarda was born on the 6 September, 1620 in Novara and at the age of 16 she entered the convent Collegio di Sant Orsola. In 1686 she became Madre Superior of this convent and in 1693 Madre Vicaria. This convent was closed in 1811. In the 17th century it was a kind of teaching school for girls, the curriculum of which certainly included music. It is not known who taught Leonarda to compose, but in his Dizionario Ricordi della Musica e di Musicisti (Ricordi, Milan, 1959) Sartori makes the assumption that the Maestro di Capella of the Novara Cathedral, Gasparo Casati was her teacher. Her first composition appears in a printed work which he published around 1640. This was a common way for first works of composers to be presented to the public at the time. The French music lover and collector Sebastien de Brossard (1655-1730) knew Leonarda's music well and appreciated it especially. This is documented by him in Catalogue des livres de musique theorique et pratique (Paris, 1724). Considering her large compositional production, Isabella Leonarda has been almost fully ignored by today's musicians, music students and music scholars. However, given a chance to hear it, many people discover the creative force of her music. Literature: Bowers -Tick: Women making music, the Western Art Tradition 1150-1950, MacMillan Press, 1986 Caldwell, J : Editing Early Music, Early Music series 5, Clarendon Press, 1985 Carter, Stewart Arlen: The Music of Isabella Leonarda, Diss. 1982 ,Stanford University Pendle, K : Women & Music, A History, Indiana University Press, 1991


Annäherung VIII - an sieben Komponistinnen
Selected bass motets
Iam diu dilecte mi Jesu. Motet from op. 20 (1700)
Sonate Nr. 1 op. 16
Sonate Nr. 12 op. 16