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A Recital of Women Composers

A Recital of Women Composers

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Concertino for Flute and Piano, Op. 107 (1902)                        

Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)

Ellen Mosley, flute & William A. Murphy, piano


Suite “Dancing with Myself” (2008)                                  

Barbara York (1949-2020)

            I. Bohemian Evening                                              

            II. Tango

            III. The Night Goes On

            IV. Polka

            V. Past Midnight

Stacy Baker, tuba; Derek Easterling, Euphonium; William A. Murphy, piano;

Sonata in E Minor (1932)                                             

Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

            I. Andate – Allegro

William A. Murphy, piano

Tableaux de Provence (1948-1955)                                  

Paule Maurice (1910-1967)

            Farandoulo di chatouno (Farandole of the girls)       

            Cansoun per ma mio  (Song for my ladylove)

            La boumiano  (The gypsy woman)

            Dis alyscamps l’amo souspire  (The soul of the Alyscamps sighs)

            Lou cabridan  (The Bumblebee)

Nathan Mensink, saxophone & William A. Murphy, piano

Three Browning Songs, Op. 44 (1899)           

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944)

   II.   Ah, Love, but a Day!                                               

   III.  I Send My Heart up to Thee!

   I.   The Year’s at the Spring

Noah Scott Bruce, tenor & William A. Murphy, piano


Concertino for Flute and Piano (1902)

Cécile Chaminade (Paris, 1857 - Monte Carlo, 1944)

Cécile Chaminade was born in Paris, France in 1857.  She learned music first from her mother, however her father did not approve of a musical education.  So rather than attend the conservatory, much of her formal learning was through private education and most notably one of her teachers was French composer, Benjamin Godard.  Making her first public appearance at age 18, she soon would be travelling to perform in many countries including a debut in the United States with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Because of her accomplishments, she was the first woman awarded the Legion of Honor from the French Government.   She had many great compositions, nearly four hundred. Most of these were published while she was still living.  However, many of them have been forgotten, songs and piano pieces alike.  The Concertino for Flute and Piano remains a standard of the flute repertoire.  

In its original form, the Concertino for Flute and Piano was composed in 1902 most likely for exams at the Paris Conservatory and was dedicated to the flute instructor at the time, Paul Taffanel.  



Suite "Dancing with Myself" (2002)

Barbara York (Winnipeg,Canada 1949 - Pittsburg, KS, 2020) 

Barbara York was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1949.  She made a career as a chamber and solo music composer in addition to being a concert accompanist and director of choral ensembles and theater musicals.  She was known for compositions of all varieties of instruments and her music has been featured at several international musical symposiums and she received several commissions and awards for her compositional work.  Unfortunately, she passed away last November following a year-long battle with pulmonary fibrosis.  Her daughter has this to say to those musicians who knew York’s work: “…please support living composers. Purchase and perform their works, commission pieces from them, and reach out to them about their music –  Barbara's legacy lives on through her music.”

The Suite was originally composed for Horn and Tuba as the solo instruments.  In this arrangement, York reworked it for Euphonium and Tuba.  She had the following to say about this work:

            As the subtitle suggests, I am always reflecting on the fact that all of our relationships/dances with others are            all also in many ways, simply relationships with ourselves (or aspects of ourselves), mirrored back to us in our              own perception. To my own mind, the Suite is rather moody and even "quirky" at time without, hopefully,                    going over the top in that respect. For me it is a bit of the "Bohemian Barbara" coming out of the bars and                  cafes of my youth into the misty, late-night streets of cosmopolitan Montreal.

Sonata in E minor (1932)

Florence B. Price (Little Rock, 1887 - Chicago, 1953)

Hailing from Little Rock, AR, Florence B. Price is considered to be the first African American woman to reach distinction on the national level.  She attended the New England Conservatory for her diploma in solo organ and a diploma for teaching piano.  She also studied composition with the director of the conservatory, George W. Chadwick.  In 1910, she moved to Atlanta to take on the role as head of the music department for Clark Atlanta University.  However, Jim Crow laws were still very much alive.  So, she and her family moved to Chicago and settled there.  Overcoming abuse from her husband, she divorced in 1931 and became a single mother while still composing music and playing for silent movies on the side.  Eventually, she moved in with pianist and composer Margaret Bonds (also her student) which led to connections with singer Marian Anderson and writer Langston Hughes.  She has over 300 compositions to her name with more than 20 being devoted to the orchestral genre.  Many awards were given to her compositions, including the Sonata in E Minor for piano; in 1932 it won first prize of the Rodman Wanamaker music contest – the benefactor of the Wanamaker organ at Macy’s in Philadelphia.  However, her Symphony in E Minor received overall honors and was the first orchestral piece by an African American woman to be played by a major orchestra in 1933, the Chicago Symphony.  

The first movement of the piano sonata begins with a sonorous expanse of chords and modulations.  It contains melodies that are reminiscent of the pre-emancipation spirituals. However familiar, they are original melodies by the composer.  It stands well on its own with an unbridled coda that transports it to completion.

Tableaux de Provence (1948-1955)

Paule Maurice (Paris, 1910 - 1967)

Paule Maurice is one of the composers where much is left to be known.  She was the wife of French composer and pianist Pierre Lantier.  A career at the Paris Conservatory spanning nearly 35 years as a student and teacher, is only known mainly to the curriculum vitae that was written by Maurice herself.  She is known to have over 50 compositions, but their manuscripts are currently lost.  Therefore, one of her most known works is the Tableaux de Provence. Dedicated to saxophonist Marcel Mule, many performances were given by the performer after its premiere in 1957 with piano and later in 1958 with orchestra by Jean-Marie Londeix.

Divided into five movements, the music depicts various scenes from the Provence region of France – a place where both Maurice and Mule spent time vacationing with their families.  The first movement is of a dance quality and joyous occasion.  The second movement is a serenade on the guitar, signaled by the open strings’introduction.  The third movement, another dance, this time is grounded with a pulsating rhythm of gypsies making pilgrimage to Saintes-Maries-de-la Mer – the area where Christianity was first bought to France.  The fourth movement is most personal to Maurice – possibly attributed to the memory of a lost relative.  The Alyscamps is a Roman necropolis in the south of France just outside of Arles and is recognized by large tombs and soaring pines.  Lou cabridan is the motions of a large bee that resides in the Provence region and this movement is the saxophone equivalent of “Flight of the Bumblebee.”      

Three Browning Songs, Op. 44 (1899)

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (Henniker, New Hampshire,1867 - New York City, 1944)

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach was the first woman in America to reach acclaim for musical compositions.  She began her musical career at age 15 making her debut performing with an orchestra in Boston and most of her compositional learning was self-taught.  Her yield rendered over 300 works which included more than 100 songs; most of which were published in her lifetime – an unheard-of accomplishment.  She used her marriage to Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, a physician 25 years older than Amy,  to her advantage because of her newly elevated social stature.  His connections in the Boston society allowed for patrons and sponsorship of her compositions. After his death, she was able to become active again as a concert pianist and she was able to foster more support for her compositions. Without her, the future generations of American women composers would not have been possible. 

The Three Browning Songs  are perhaps among the most popular songs of her collection.  Taking texts from English poet, Robert Browning, she uses the following poems for her musical genius.  The poetic writings are supported by the skillfully composed piano accompaniment.  You will hear in The Year’s at the Spring the impetus behind the accompaniment – train wheels, as it was composed while she was travelling by train.  In Ah, Love, but a day! there is a great buildup of tension when the singer finally asks “Look in my eyes! Wilt thou change too?”  I send my heart up to thee! contains rich flowing arpeggiations that mimics the text of the singer.  Closing the recital, I'd like to remember where we have been with the past year and where we will be soon.  Performed out of their original order, the text bears the more hopeful ending:  “All’s right with the world!”

II. Ah, Love, but a day!   

    Ah, Love, but a day,

    And the world has changed!

    The sun’s away,

    And the bird estranged;

    The very night is clinging

    The wind has dropped,

    And the sky’s deranged;

    Summer has stopped.

    Look in my eyes!

    Wilt thou change too?

    Should I fear surprise?

    Shall I find aught new

    In the old and dear,

    In the good and true

    With the changing year?

 III. I send my heart up to thee!        

     I send my heart up to thee, all my heart            In this my singing,                                        For the stars help me, and the sea,                        and the sea bears part;                            Closer to Venice’ streets to leave on space        Above me, whence thy face                          May light my joyous heart to thee,                        to thee its dwelling place.  

I. The Year's at the Spring.

   The year’s at the spring,

   And day’s at the morn;

   Morning’s at seven;

   The hill-side’s dew-pearl'd;

   The lark’s on the wing;

   The snail’s on the thorn; 

   God’s in His heaven–

   All’s right with the world!

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