The neglected women of classical music celebrated in new book by Anna Beer

The fascinating hidden histories behind eight female musical virtuosos have been explored in a new book by Anna Beer, Acting Director of the Department’s MSt in Creative Writing.

Sounds and Sweet Airs: the Forgotten Women of Classical Music (Oneworld Publications, 2016) looks at the ways in which female composers overcame a restrictive musical culture that patronised them, scrutinised their sex lives and questioned the veracity of their authorship. Exploring the lives and musical legacies of great composers, such as Barbara Strozzi and Clara Schumman, the book explores the unique communities that enabled these women to compose, and asks tough questions about why we still don't hear their masterpieces performed.

Anna Beer, who is heading up the Department’s MSt in Creative Writing programme while Director Clare Morgan is on sabbatical, was formerly a University Lecturer in Literature here at Continuing Education. She is a Fellow of Kellogg College and of the Royal Society of Arts. A biographer and literary critic, she has published biographies of John Milton (Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer and Patriot; published in 2008 by Bloomsbury in the UK and the US) and of the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh (Bess, published by Constable, UK and Random House, US in 2004).

Those interested in purchasing Sounds and Sweet Airs at a 20% discounted price with free shipping should visit the Oneworld Publications website, and enter the discount code ‘MUSIC20’ at the checkout stage. 

You can also listen to Anna talk about her latest book in an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States, recorded in May.

Published 31 May 2016