Clara Schumann versus Robert Schumann
Reader Mathias Broucek has added the comment below to my post Classical musicians hunt in tribes. On An Overgrown Path made the case for women composers long before it became social media click bait. But I believe recent uncritical advocacy is seriously devaluing the overwhelming argument for gender equality. Which is why I am featuring Mathias' thoughtful and refreshingly politically incorrect observation as a separate post.
I'm all for finding good music of the past that was/is repressed for bad reasons (i.e. "wrong" politics, "wrong" skin colour, "wrong" gender, "wrong" (non-second Viennese) school etc.).That photo of a store window display was taken by me in the Dutch town of Horn. Read into it any relevance to women composers or Clara versus Robert Schumann that you want. New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email by entering your email address in the right-hand sidebar. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).
But it needs to be *good* music. Did the status of women in earlier years lead to potential world-class composers not having the encouragement they needed? Almost certainly. Was Clara as good a composer as Robert? Not on the evidence of the works I've heard.
I weep when I hear Bach, Beethoven and Brahms written-off as "dead white men". We need to encourage TODAY's female composers and if someone can find a world-beating female composer from the past (Hildegard aside) then I'd love to hear her music. But digging out the second rate to tick a box is unlikely to inspire anyone.