An alternative history of 20th-century composers—nearly all of them women or composers of color—by a leading international music critic Think of a composer right now. Was it a white man? Perhaps in old-fashioned clothing and wild hair? The music history we're told is one dominated by men, and even then, only a select few enter the zeitgeist. This conventional history perpetuates the myth of "great works" created by "genius" artists. Men who enjoyed institutional privilege during their lifetimes and have since been enshrined by an industry of publishers and record labels. But just because we haven't heard of spectacular female composers, doesn't mean they weren't creating music all the same. Profiling a dozen pioneering 20th-century composers—including American modernist Ruth Crawford Seeger (mother of Pete and Peggy Seeger), French electronic artist Éliane Radigue, Soviet visionary Galina Ustvolskaya, and Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou—acclaimed journalist and BBC broadcaster Kate Molleson reexamines the canon while bringing to life largely forgotten sonic revolutionaries whose dramatic lives and bursts of creativity played out against a backdrop of seismic geopolitical and social change. These composers, working at a remove from London, Paris, Vienna, and New York, were sidelined and ignored for systemic, structural reasons. This is a landmark alternative history of 20th-century composers; a radical, new, and truly global work of revisionist history. It is a campaigning book that challenges the status quo while introducing you to a world of groundbreaking music.
Kate Molleson is a journalist and broadcaster and one of the UK’s leading commentators on contemporary classical music. She was a classical music critic for the Guardian for seven years and deputy editor of Opera magazine. She currently presents BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show and Music Matters. She has presented documentaries for BBC4 and BBC World Service, and she teaches music journalism at the Darmstadt and Dartington international summer schools. Molleson grew up in various parts of Scotland and the far north of Canada, and studied clarinet performance at McGill University in Montreal and musicology at King’s College London, where she researched the operas of Ezra Pound. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.