International Women's Day: Women Composers in RISM

Today, March 8, is celebrated around the world as International Women's Day. Among many other things the organizers support "a call to action for accelerating gender parity."

In music, as we know, women musicians have struggled throughout history to be as visible as their male counterparts. In the RISM database, among the thousands of people that function as composers, copyists, performers, previous owners, etc. in the sources, there are 43,000 men but only 6,000 women. There are no doubt more women who were involved in the creation of a source, but their contributions are as yet undiscovered or unacknowledged.  Women are also certainly hidden among the 200,000 anonymous sources in RISM. Just a few months ago, one of these was identified: an anonymous source was discovered to be by Princess Maria Carolina of Savoy, rescuing her from the clutches of anonymity and adding one more woman composer to the database.  

Databases typically do not offer users the possibility to search by gender, making it difficult to find information specifically relating to women. The RISM database does not currently offer this, either—though we hope enable it in the next version of the catalog—but gender is encoded in our authority files (visible when you click on a name while looking at a record). These authority files can be searched by us in our internal database, so to celebrate the achievements of women composers, here we offer you a list of the ca. 800 women composers that you can find in the RISM catalog:

Last name — Life dates — Number of sources:

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

c = circa
a = before
p = after

Musical Anniversaries in 2017

Happy New Year!

We start the year by looking ahead and getting ready to celebrate people in the RISM database who will have a major birthday this year or to remember those who died. We would like to begin 2017 with an overview of these people: they are not only composers but also include librettists, musicians, dedicatees, or people who are in other ways related to a source. They were born or died in a year ending in 17 or 67.

A special highlight of 2017 will be a packed calendar of events that mark the death of Georg Philipp Telemann 250 years ago. The celebrations, an overview of which can be viewed on the Telemann 2017 website, will reach previously unseen dimensions of scope and diversity of activities.

To start off the celebrations, here is a sampling of ten people (of the almost 900) you can add to your calendar:

Explore the other ca. 890 in these lists, which range from the Bavarian priest Anton Acher (1744-1817) to the Swiss prior and clergyman Gregor Zwissieni (1700-1767). Chronologically speaking, we begin with the Roman historian Livy (born Titus Livius, 59 BC–17 AD) and end with the German writer Kuba (born Kurt Barthel, 1914-1967).

Born in xx16 or xx66 (click on any heading to sort): - See more at:

Born in xx17 or xx67 (click on any heading to sort):

Died in xx17 or xx67 (click on any heading to sort):

c = circa
a = before
p = after

- See more at:


The full list can be viewed here.

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




Category: Events

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All news entries are by the RISM Central Office staff unless otherwise noted. Reuse of RISM's own texts is permitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License—though please note that image credits and permissions are usually separate and noted at the bottom of each post. If authorship is attributed to someone else (indicated at the start of an entry and/or by a name following the word "Contact"), please contact the individual authors.