Boldly Expressive!

Boldly Expressive! Music by Women

Historically, women were encouraged to play feminine musical instruments or to sing. They were encouraged to study some music theory and composition but were discouraged from becoming too advanced. They were encouraged to composed, as long as the music was art song or short piano pieces - types of music that were suitable to the private salon, the appropriate place for women musicians. Public performance and publication of their compositions were discouraged as well as the composition of large-scale serious works such as operas, symphonies, sonatas, and masses. Serious composition was considered to be man's work; however, there have always been strong-willed and courageous women who have resisted such labels and restrictions. It is the music by such women that we champion. It is our goal that this music be heard, given a chance to become part of the standard repertoire, and that all music be performed regardless for the gender or ethnic background of the composer.

The Artists

Violinist Laura Kobayashi and pianist Susan Keith Gray are enthusiastically praised for their blending of brilliant technique, beautifully expressive musicianship, impeccable ensemble and stimulating programming. In 1993, the Duo toured South America and the West Indies as winners of the USIA Artistic Ambassador auditions and in 1995 received second prize in the Contemporary Record Society's National Competition for Performing Artists. They frequently tour throughout the United States performing standard works as well as compositions by women composers. Their edition of Grande Sonate, op. 8 by Marie Grandval, heard on this premiere recording, is available from Hildegard Publishing Company.

Laura Kobayashi performs extensively as a soloist and chamber musician and has participated in numerous music festivals throughout the United States. A former member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, she has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the University of Georgia, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the Brevard Music Center. Currently she is serving on the faculty at West Virginia University and performs with the West Virginia Piano Quartet. A native of Seattle, Washington, she has studied violin with Dorothy DeLay, Andrew Jennings, Paul Kantor and Denes Zsigmondy and has performed in the master classes of Nathan Milstein, Ruggiero Ricci, Arthur Grumiaux, and Gyorgy Pauk. Chamber music studies have been with members of the Julliard, Tokyo and American String Quartets as well as with pianists, Robert McDonald and Samuel Sanders. Kobayashi earned degrees from The Juilliard School and Yale University and the Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan.

Susan Keith Gray is frequently heard as a collaborative pianist. Artists with whom she has performed include cellists Wendy Warner and Anthony Elliott, flutists Leone Buyse and Torkil Bye, clarinetists Richard Hawkins and Theodore Oien, and singers Bruce Rameker, Earl Coleman, Patricia Prunty and Nicole Philibosian. Three times she has served on the instrumental accompanying faculty of the Music Academy of the West and has accompanied for numerous national competitions. As a member of the University of South Dakota Rawlins Piano Trio, Gray has recorded American piano trios, also on Albany Records, and has twice performed the complete cycle of Beethoven piano trios. Other recordings include The Unknown Flower: Song Cycles by American Women Composers with soprano Charsie Randolph Sawyer, and song cycles of African-American composers for public radio and compact disc. Gray holds degrees from Converse College and the University of Illinois and the DMA from the University of Michigan. She has studied piano with George Lucktenberg, Ian Hobson, Theodore Lettvin and Louis Nagel and collaborative piano with Marin Katz and Eckart Sellheim.

The Composers

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) succeeded in dual careers as concert violist and composer. She was born and raised in England by an American father and a mother of German descent. She attended the Royal College of Music where she studied counterpoint and fugue with Sir Frederick Bridge, viola with Lionel Tertis, and was the first female composition student of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. She broke other gender barrier as one of the first woman members of the Queen's Hall Orchestra in London. She performed with three all-woman chamber music groups including the Nora Clench String Quartet and the English Ensemble piano quartet. In 1919 and again in 1921, she was awarded second prize (and denied first prize due to her gender in 1919) in the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Competition for her Viola Sonata and Piano Trio, respectively. Over the course of her career she performed chamber music with many of the world's greatest musicians including Pablo Casals, Jacques Thibaud, Artur Rubenstein, Jascha Heifetz, Artur Schnabel and her husband, James Friskin. She composed approximately 50 vocal works and 24 chamber works. Additional publications include articles on the Beethoven string quartets, the history of the viola in string quartet literature and the entries on the viola and on Ernst Bloch for Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music.

Midsummer Moon was written for violinist Adila Fachiri in 1924. Its impressionistic style shows influences of Vaughan Williams and Debussy. Originally published by Oxford University Press in 1926, it is currently out of print.

Marie Grandval (!830-1907) was born Marie Félicie Clence de Reiset. She began piano studies at the age of six and, as a young teenager, studied composition with Friedrich Flotow (the composer of the opera Martha). At the age of fifteen, her diplomat father, also a pianist and composer, guided her composition of a septet. After her marriage to the Vicomte de Gradval, sometime between 1850 and 1853, she resumed formal musical studies—composition with Saint-Saëns and piano with Chopin. She was a prolific composer and many of her works were published, performed and favorably reviewed during her lifetime. Compositional prizes include the Concours Rossini in 1880 for her oratorio, La fille de Jaïre and the prestigious Prix Chartier for chamber music from the Paris Conservatoire in 1890. Her known instrumental chamber works include those for flute, violin, cello, English horn, oboe, or clarinet with piano, a duo for flute and harp, a trio for oboe, cello and piano, two trios for piano, violin and cello and the sonata for violin and piano. In addition, she composed numerous songs, several successfully premiered operas, choral works, symphonies and symphonic works, piano pieces and many transcriptions of her own works for piano duet and two pianos. Four female pseudonyms appear on her publications as well as her married name with the parenthetical birth name, Mme. La Vsse. De Grandval (Clémence de Resiet).

Grande Sonate, Op. 8 is dedicated to Adolphe Adam (1803-1856), a popular French opera and ballet composer. Grandval's romantic compositional style combines Chopinesque piano virtuosity with operatic lyricism and drama, all within a four movement, classical sonata structure. The work was originally published by Lemoine of Paris and is again available in a 1998 edition from Hildegard Publishing Company.

Johanna Senfter (1879-1961) was from Oppenheim, Germany. At age 14, she began studies at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main where her teachers were Iwan Knorr for composition, Carl Friedberg, piano, and Adolf Rebner, violin. From 1908-1910 she studied composition with Max Reger at the Leipzig Conservatory and in 1910 she received the Arthur Nikisch prize for best composition of the year. She composed more than 180 works, including nine symphonies, concertos for piano, violin, and cello, five string quartets, a piano quartet, a clarinet quintet and numerous vocal works.

Melodie and Elegie from Sechs kleine Stücke, Op. 13 reveal a late-Romantic compositional style.

Serra Miyeun Hwang (born 1962) was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. She moved to the United States at the age of 18, later receiving a BA in Composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MA and DMA in Composition from the University of Michigan. Since completing her degrees she has lived in London and in Chonju, Korea, where she continued her musical research, performances and teaching. Recent activities include the performance of her orchestral piece Pinari by the Hallé Orchestra for the BBC Composer's Platform, the winning of first prize in the International League for Women Composers' Search for New Music Competition, and the release of Nongbuga for saxophone and percussion on the IEL (Innocent Eyes & Lenses) label as part of their Asian American Music Compilation CD Project. Currently she teachers at Bradley University and is raising her two-year-old son with her husband in Bloomington, Illinois.

Commissioned by the Kobayashi/Gray Duo, Allegory was composed in 1994 and premiered by the Duo in 1995. Hwang describes this work as reflecting her life: unpredictable, eventful, yet longing for stability; however, she feels that it also represents a part of life which one cannot control. The title suggests that the music will provide an interpretation unique to each listener.

Barbara Heller (Born 1936) studied at the Mannheim Hochschule für Musik and at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich. Her piano teachers were Helmut Vogel and Eric Tenberg; her composition teachers, Hans Vogt and Harald Genzmer. She studied film music with A. F. Lavagnino at the Accademia Chigiano, Siena. Her compositions include a sinfonietta for string orchestra, songs, chamber music, piano works, sound installations and film music. Her compositional method has also included collaborations with visual artists and other composers and musicians. In 1989 she ended her career as a concert pianist in order to dedicate herself entirely to composing. Heller has been active for a number of years as an advocate for the music of women and women's issues. Her activities include being a founding member of Internationaler Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik and as an editor of a collection of the piano music of Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel.

Lalai—Schlaflied zum Wachwerden? (Lalai—lullaby for awakening?) was composed in sympathy for women held hostage in Iran. It was performed in Bonn in 1989 by the composer and violinist Helga Wähdel as a show of solidarity for the rescue and release of the Iranian women from prison. These women, however, were murdered. The melody is based on a Persian song that was sung as a resistance song by Iranian intellectuals in Iran and abroad during the reign of the Shah. It is a lullaby sung by a mother, telling her child what has happened to his father. The violin opens with the original form of the song over an “alienating” harmonic accompaniment in the piano. As the work continues, the pianist uses techniques inside the piano to reflect sounds of drumming and of Persian instruments.

Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-69) was one of Poland's most notable 20th century musicians. She began studies in piano, violin and composition in her native Lódz and graduated in composition and violin from the Warsaw Conservatory. She obtained additional studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and with André Touret and Carl Flesch on violin. At the first Wieniawski Competition in Warsaw in 1935, she was awarded a first class distinction as a violinist. She served briefly as principal violinist of the Polish Radio Orchestra and concretized in Europe before WWII. Major prizes in composition include top awards at the International Chopin Competition for Composers in Warsaw (1949), the International Composers' competition in Liège (1951), UNESCO's International Rostrum of composers in Paris (1960) and the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Brussels (1965). In 1955 she chose to end her performing career and concentrate on composition. Over her lifetime, she composed more than 200 works including four symphonies, seven violin concertos, seven string quartets, five violin sonatas, four piano sonatas, ten etudes for piano, concertos for piano, two pianos, viola and cello, and other works including comic opera, ballet, and songs.

Many of her earlier works are described as Neo-Classical and Neo-Baroque in style. During the 1950's her style increased in emotional power and, beginning in 1960, she experimented with avant garde tonal colors. Sonata No. 5, was composed in 1951, published in 1954 by Polski Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM) and is currently out of print.

Recorded at the Creative Arts Center at West Virginia University, December 1998.

Recording and editing: Peter Nothnagle

Piano technician: Tim Richards

Cover design and graphics: Carol Cook Geu

Cover art: Cathy Beard (golden Thread, 6”x3” gouache)

Artist Photos: Billings Photography, Omaha, Nebraska

Partial funding for this disc was provided by a South Dakota Arts Council Artist Project Grant.

SOUTH DAKOTA ARTS COUNCIL support is provided with funs from the State Legislature & the National Endowment for the Arts.



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