Explore the world’s forgotten women composers in this incredible interactive map

19 August 2021, 16:53 | Updated: 19 August 2021, 17:04

Forgotten female composers feature in interactive map
Forgotten female composers feature in interactive map. Picture: svmusicology.com/mapa

By Rosie Pentreath

Discover and celebrate over 500 great figures from classical music, thanks to this ingenious interactive tool that honours women past and present.

A new interactive tool has been created to shine a light on brilliant female composers around the world who, throughout the ages, have been neglected to a large extent by classical music.

Pushing back on the prejudice, societal norms and troubling taboos that have cast women under an almost impenetrable shadow for centuries, music teacher Sakira Ventura has created an online map that plots hundreds of women composers living today, and from history, in their respective countries.

The effect is an instant visual of just how many women and their music are ripe for discovery.

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The 28-year-old music teacher was inspired by the fact that she doesn’t remember learning about many, if any, female composers during her own music education. Something she wanted to rectify in her own student’s journey.

“They don’t appear in musical history books, their works aren’t played at concerts and their music isn’t recorded,” Ventura says of the majority of the women on the map.

Speaking to The Guardian, she continues: “I’m 28 years old and nobody ever spoke to me about female composers. I want to do what hasn’t been done for me.

“I want my students to know that Mozart and Beethoven existed but also that there were also all these female composers.”

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Ventura’s fascinating map features living British composers such as Rachel Portman and Alma Deutscher, but also less well known historical and living figures – such as the Ethiopian nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, who is known for her piano playing and compositions, and the song composer, Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was Haiwaii’s last monarch and the composer of over 160 songs.

Every woman’s plot is accompanied by a short bio and links to discover more. It’s a rich, fascinating and inspiring tool, which Ventura has told The Guardian she’s continuing to build, with a list of another 500 women being collated as we speak.

“I had always talked about putting these composers on the map,” she says. “So it occurred to me to do it literally.”

Visit svmusicology.com/mapa to explore now.