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Music by Women Composers in Performance

Release Date: 2/14/2023
EStrella Piano Duo Presents

Made possible by a generous grant from the Musicians Club of Women, this album celebrates the music of Women composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries
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Program Notes

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The members of the EStrella Piano Duo, Svetlana Belsky and Elena Doubovitskaya have, between them, premiered, performed, recorded and promoted works by over a dozen living composers.  Half of them are women.  This fact is merely incidental – only the quality of the music matters.  But in a historical perspective this is revolutionary. 

Surely Bach’s daughters played and composed as much as his sons, yet their work remains unknown.  In Mozart’s day every self-respecting home had a piano, and every eligible young woman played and, perhaps, composed – but once again, only a few voices from the period survive.  The true revolution came during the Romantic Era, between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was hard-fought. 

As late as 1892 Antonin Dvořák wrote: “[Ladies] have not the creative power.” But of course, they do, and did, and always have.

This recording project features rarely heard and little recorded works for piano duet by women composers whose names might be familiar, but whose music is not:  from Fanny Mendelssohn who published under her brother’s name, to Mélanie Bonis who used the androgynous name Mel, to Amy Beach who achieved fame and recognition as a composer of large-scale orchestral works, to Marie Jaëll whose works were premiered by Franz Liszt himself, to Cécile Chaminade who was the first woman Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, At some point in their lives, all these women were expected to be primarily wives and mothers, and keep their music-making to a small salon setting.  This CD features precisely the often-overlooked small gems in this genre. This project is the culmination of EStrella Duo’s recent efforts to program and perform these unjustly neglected works and bring them to the widest possible audiences. 

Program Notes