Catalogue to the exhibition
1) The female Conductor’s Tree
Rather than leaves the growing tree sprouts the casts of hands of
contemporary female conductors. Interestingly it is known, that in Ancient Egypt female singers beat
the rhythm. In the convents of Byzantium composing nuns conducted and from Baroque times through till the 19th century
women led ensembles from the cembalo or the violin. And in the 20th century Nadja Boulanger or Imogen Holst led the way to
women conducting from the podium.
2) The Portrait gallery and Time-line
Down the whole length of the Orangerie (100m) runs one
timeline with hundred selected portraits designed in notes.
Hundred female composers from all continents and as many
countries as possible.
(3) Composing in the Ecclesiastical context
In Medieval and Renaissance times convents were effectively the only place, where women were able to create music.
Within the secure walls of a convent women were given free raign to play, study and compose. Before the Reformation about one third
of the daughters of aristocratic or patrician families were destined to live out their lives in convents.
Songs and books and names come to us todayincluding names as Hildegard von Bingen, Catarina Assandras, Äbtissin Erintrudes,
Vittoria Raffaella Aleotti, Isabella Leonarda etc. All of this can be read about and listened to by kneeling at a church pew in a chapel
4) Composing in the Aristocratic context
Courtlife provided a protective space, within which music could
flourish and women could live as composers. Convent and
aristocratic life were interwoven. At the court of Ferrara in Renaissance times for instance there wasthe Concerto delle Donne created through the patronage of the Medici and Gonzaga families. It was here that Francesca Caccini was the first woman to compose an opera.
5) The Salon
Music making was central in a 19th century Salon, both in
aristocratic and Bourgeoisie society. The music rooms and garden pavillions provided exquisite spaces for performances for
encounters, dialogue, networking and patronage. Such were the rooms in which Alma Mahler, Louise Farrenc, Mel
Bonis or Lilly Boulanger, Louise Adolpha Le Beau, Amy Beach and Ethel Smythe, Clara Schumann or Fanny Hensel created and
performed chamber and choral music. Here they gained their knowledge in conducting and composing some even to the point of supporting their male family members.
(6) The Room of the Muses
Within this room will hang 9 impressive, oversized metal sculptures (their height: 3m-5m , their diameter :maximum 3 m ),
representing 9 very different types of composers. The specially designed figures will incorporate an integrated soundhood which the visitors can duck into. There they can listen to audio portraits of example composers work like “the scholar”, the “Femme fragile “”femme fatale“ ”the religious”.
(7) The Room of the Ostracised
The deep wound in twentieth century Austria is 1938, when the National Socialists took power, following
four years of repressive Austro-fascism. The political destruction of artistic life from 1938 onwards forced
women with a Jewish background to leave Austria, or to hide, usually resulting in their getting deported to
concentration camps. Furthermore, the Reichsmusikkammer, which promoted good German music, excluded
non-Jewish, female composers from receiving royalties in the categories of sinfonic music.
Figuratively therefore, the Exhibition’s room of exiled and suppressed composers presents five silhouettes standing on crushed scores. Their stories are told on tablets, installed on their empty bodies. This room is dedicated to the young girls who left Austria
and Germany, choosing exile in the United States and Great Britain in order freely to compose: Ruth SCHÖNTHAL and
Ursula MAMLOK were two, Vally WEIGL another, who became
a pioneer in music therapy.
8) Room of the Film Music
Female composers play a major role in the world of film music today. This small cinema dedicated to them will have a screen, upon which will be shown examples of their work. International and national Film festivals will be contributing Showreels, from “Tricky women” to “Women Film Composers”.
(9) Room of the Contemporaries
This open space, a platform without borders or walls, provides an invitation to enjoy contemporary
music production. On nine monitors you can view video portraits of more than 60 contemporary
female composers. These presentations have been made specificcally for the MusicaFemina Exhibitions
by ensembles, individual musicians, music centers and foundations.
MusicaFemina - The rooms of the exhibition
From different perspectives, in 9 specially-designed rooms, this Exhibition will most artfully highlight the substantial contribution that women have made both in the fields of composition and music-making too. From Hildegard von Bingen to Olga Neuwirth, women’s hitherto unrecognised profile in the history of music will be seen in a wider political context now that efforts have been made, both in Europe and internationally, to create a more gender-balanced world.