Why Signature?

 

Stop and think for a moment...
How many women composers can you name?
How frequently have you heard their music performed in concert or on a recording?
When was the last time you saw a woman conduct an orchestra?

 

Who was behind the formation of most of North America’s first orchestras in smaller towns and cities across the continent?  Who do you think founded the Curtis Institute of Music?  A man named Curtis?  No! – a woman named Mary Louise Curtis Bok!  Who cultivated music, sponsored concerts, organized music clubs, educated themselves and each other and then taught younger generations to engage in and value the arts?  Women!

 

In the 1980s when Wilhelmina Holliday dreamed of founding what is now the National Museum of Women in the Arts, she would ask people how many women artists they could name.  Inevitably she heard silence or someone might mention Mary Cassatt or Georgia O’Keeffe.  Only two women artists in all of art history?  Of course not, there have been hundreds.  Just as there have been hundreds of women composers, conductors, instrumentalists but what do we know of their history, their contributions?

 

Women artists found a committed champion in Mrs. Holliday and others like her. Now their work is recognized, acclaimed and hangs in museums while their lives and achievements serve to inspire new generations of girls and women who dream of becoming painters and sculptors.

 

We can’t start a museum but the Maud Powell Society for Music and Education is bringing the stories of the lives and works of women in classical music to the world through our online magazine The Maud Powell Signature, Women in Music, free and accessible to everyone on our web site www.maudpowell.org/signature.

 

We are doing for women in music what others have done for women in art.  We began with one great woman musician, the American violinist Maud Powell, who like many women in the arts fell into obscurity after her death.  For the past two decades, we have worked to establish her legacy through an acclaimed biography, recordings, lectures and our educational programs. Today her name is known throughout the world. And once again she is making a difference.  She is inspiring a new generation of young people to engage in classical music and to follow their dreams.

 

But Maud Powell is only one woman.  What about the others?  Why shouldn’t we know the stories of the pioneers in music like composers Amy Beach and Maddalena Lombardi, pianists Amy Fay and Clara Schumann, conservatory founder Jeannette Thurber, arts patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, soprano Maria Malibran, Metropolitan Opera star Mattiwilda Dobbs, conductors Mary Cornwall Davenport Engberg and Antonia Brico, critic and musicologist Marion Scott, film composer Doreen Carwithen, folk-song collector Marjory Kennedy Fraser, and teacher Nadia Boulanger along with contemporary women working in all fields of music?  There are so many others. The list is endless.

 

If your son or daughter asked you to tell them about women composers and performers, what would you say?  Where would you go to find their stories?  Would you search the worldwide web?

 

It is time for us to work together to change the course of history, to bring women out of the shadows and into the light and leave a legacy for future generations. Why should we go on thinking that no woman has ever composed anything more than short piano pieces and songs? Why should women be denied opportunities to share their music with the world or to utilize their gifts as performers?  Why should their names be footnotes in music history books?  Why shouldn’t we know the other half of music history?

 

Utilizing the talents of a team of international writers, The Maud Powell Signature fills in the gaps in our music history by bringing the silent half of our musical heritage alive right to the present day with contemporary figures who are changing the classical music landscape.  In its 90 plus pages, Signature features richly illustrated articles about historical and contemporary women who have made significant contributions to music.  In addition, Signature’s “Children’s Corner” offers inspiration to young people by focusing on the early creative lives of successful women in music.  Teachers and parents can glean new ideas and fresh insights through Signature’s music in education column.  The Maud Powell Society offers all this free on the worldwide web!

 

People all over the world -- from Lithuania to Brazil, from Japan to Israel and throughout the United States and Canada are reading Signature.  Through this important magazine, the Maud Powell Society for Music and Education is re-affirming that music is a bridge that spans our universe, one that unites people instead of dividing them.  Music is a force for good that nurtures the human spirit.

 

We invite you to embark on a journey of discovery – to venture with us into the unexplored world of women in classical music and wonder at all you didn’t know about the contributions and achievements of women in music – the backbone of our cultural heritage -- as The Maud Powell Signature unlocks the vault of silent destinies.

 

The Maud Powell Signature will take you on a remarkable journey of wonder and discovery but we cannot continue this journey without your financial support.  You hold the Key to Signature.  Without your Key Signature, the door to the vital, exciting and important legacy of women in classical music will remained closed.

 

How can you help?  Please simply make a donation and tell others about the vitally important work we are doing and ask them to join in.

 

Let Music’s silent muse have her say at last!

 

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American Composer
Elinor Remick Warren

 

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