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Female Composers

Female composers have long flown under the radar, but are some of the most influential people when it comes to composing music. Here are four female composers who beat gender, class and race bias to become globally known composers. Fanny, Alma and Undine did the hard work of composing so that women like Unsuk and the girls and women of today do not have to pack their compositions away to be found many years later. Learn about these amazing women and hear some of their compositions below!

Fanny Mendelssohn

(1805 - 1947)

Fanny's younger brother, Felix Mendelssohn, is better known than she, but Fanny was also an accomplished composer and pianist. She composed close to 500 pieces in her lifetime, but most were unpublished due to her being a woman. She married the artist Wilhelm Hansel (who supported her composing) and they had one son, Sebastian.


Alma Mahler (1879 - 1964)

Alma was a Viennese-born composer, author, editor and socialite. She started composing very early in her life, and composed nearly 50 songs for voice and piano, but only 17 of her songs are known to have survived. She was famously married to the composer Gustav Mahler, who insisted she give up composing when they married, but she soon fell into depression and he ended up encouraging her to publish her work.


Undine Smith Moore

(1904 - 1989)

Undine was an American composer and professor of music in the 20th century. She is now know as the "Dean of Black Women Composers". She was originally trained as a classical pianist, but tended to compose vocal music inspired by black spirituals and folk music. She was a renowned teacher and received many awards for her accomplishments as a music educator. She composed over 100 compositions, but only 26 were published in her lifetime.


Unsuk Chin (present)

Unsuk is a South Korean classical composer based in Berlin, Germany. At a young age she taught herself how to play piano and music theory. She has won various awards, and her Cello Concerto was ranked the 11th greatest work of art music since 2000.


Everyone Can Compose

Everyone can compose with cool tools like this (this one was designed for kids!) By the way, doesn't it look like a game? Thanks Classics for Kids!


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