BBC Radio 3 to celebrate five forgotten female composers

UK leading classical music radio station, BBC Radio 3, has today announced the names of five female composers whose scores will be uncovered for an ambitious music project.

The project, in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and administered by BBC Wales, aims to push the achievements of historically neglected female composers, by recording previously uncaptured works with the BBC Orchestras and Choirs and the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists.

The newly-recorded works – some of which will have been hidden in archives, libraries or private collections for decades, and have been unheard since their first performance – will be premiered on Radio 3 on International Women’s Day next year, 8 March 2018.

At a workshop in February, five academics [pictured above], selected with the help of the AHRC, each put forward a composer for consideration by a Radio 3 panel: Dr Graham Griffiths presented Leokadiya Kashperova (1872 – 1940), a Russian pedagogue and pianist who taught Stravinsky; Professor Jeremy Llewelyn chose Marianna Martines (1744 – 1813), an Austrian who enjoyed fame throughout Europe in her lifetime; Dr Shirley Thompson put forward Florence B Price (1887 – 1953), an esteemed African-American symphonist; Dr Anastasia Belina-Johnson proposed Augusta Holmès (1847 – 1903), a French-Irish writer of large-scale oratorios and operas; and Carola Darwin presented Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868 – 1941), an Austrian renowned for her songs and chamber music.

Edwina Wolstencroft, BBC Radio 3 editor and diversity lead, said: ‘Radio 3 is committed to broadcasting remarkable music and culture, and celebrating high-quality work. We are therefore very excited to embark on this groundbreaking project to bring incredible works by female composers, forgotten for years, to the large modern-day audiences they deserve. It is a privilege to help celebrate the musical genius of these women in its own right.’

Sarah Burgess, portfolio manager for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative Arts and Digital Humanities, said: ‘The Arts and Humanities Research Council is excited to be working with the BBC on this important new project; it will provide a platform for academic research to present the remarkable history and music of these forgotten female composers for rediscovery by today’s audiences’.

All five academics have now been invited to choose a major, previously unrecorded work by their composer for the BBC Orchestras and Choirs to record for broadcast on Radio 3.