International Women's Day: Women Pianists in RISM

Clara Schumann

Today is International Women's Day. Last year we published a list of the ca. 800 women composers who are found in the RISM online database. In June we added eight more names to the list and in October another twelve were added.

This year we would like to focus on the women pianists in RISM. Since RISM is a database that documents specific sources rather than being a general reference guide for all music or people, we only include information on people who stand in some sort of relationship with a source. This is a lot less often the case for pianists than for singers (for example) because singers are often directly named on the source: we have around 650 sopranos in RISM but in contrast there are only around 250 women pianists.

Historically, as long as women were denied access to orchestras, the piano – and harp, too – became the instrument of choice that enabled participation in any form musical life. The fact that the piano did not serve as entertainment for only well-bred ladies of privilege is thanks to role models such as Clara Schumann, Leopoldine Blahetka, and Maria Theresia von Paradis, who became pioneers despite facing at times considerable resistance.

Here they are, the 250 female pianists in RISM:

c = circa
a = before
p = after
.sc = century

The full list can also be viewed here and is linked on the online catalog's Help page (see Question #3).

This list will continue to grow, and any corrections or additional information concerning biographical details can be sent to:

Image: Clara Schumann, circa 1853, photographer unknown, from Wikimedia Commons.



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