Music, Mostly Women Composers

Music and Corsets

I had a revelation, people!

This summer, while teaching my Women in Music class, I realized that there is a correlation between when women became more active as composers, and the new physical freedom from wearing corsets.

In earlier eras, philosophical writings about women and artistic creation tended to focus on women's lack of intellectual, creative, and physical ability.  It was too tiring for women to be involved in professional pursuits.  That would rob them of their ability to be the perfect wife, and the perfect mother.

Freedom of Movement

Guess what?

After about 1910, huge strides were made for women as composers and professional performers.

This is the same time period when women were no longer expected to wear restrictive corsets on a regular basis.  Think of the long, flowing, loose dresses of the 1920s.  This look was popularized by Poiret, a French designer at the House of Worth, beginning in the early 1900s.  One of his aesthetic aims was, literally, to "liberate women from the shackles of corsets."

There is a great clothing history mini lesson on this topic, on Coletterie.

During this time period, while there are still negative comments about women as composers, they no longer focus on the physical aspects of music making.

This idea deserves further scrutiny.

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