Anna Beer’s new book, 'Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music,' highlights overlooked but important female composers. The author spoke with NPR Music about the project and touched on some of her favorite women symphonists.
Commissioned for the birth of Bertha Faber's second son, with Clara Schumann at the piano, Brahms' "Lullaby" was first heard some 150 years ago. Absent that night in Vienna, you'll still recall its gentle, E-flat waltz from your own childhood. Likewise, you weren't there last April for the world premiere of "Sweet Like Honey Buns." But that's just because its funky, electric guitar-led hook, care of composer Daniel Levy and a young mother named Vetaya, was first performed at Rikers Island. The end result of Carnegie Hall's Lullaby Project, songs like "Honey Buns," LaToria's "Mommy's Boys, Mommy's Blessing" and "Sleep Under the Willow" by Sarah (institutions like prisons and hospitals prefer first names only) are all part of a precious process, intent on helping at-risk women, and often their partners, bond with their babies.
Chemistry. You've either got it or you haven't. So one would think that musicians who live together and play together would have it. And one would think right, in many cases. It's an interesting phenomenon and we thought we'd explore it in a little more detail with these five interesting case studies. Sounds like couples therapy? Far be it from us to say.