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Woman in Music

The preparation of One of Ingeborg von Bronsart's operas for the stage in Dessau brings up the subject of woman's achievements in music. Less than a century has passed since Mendelssohn opposed his sister's desire to publish her works, and it is only a few decades since Rubinstein praised Chaminade's pieces, but told her that women ought not to compose. It was Ingeborg von Bronsart herself who astonished Liszt, on her first visit to him, by her masterly rendering of a Bach fugue. When Liszt saw the beautiful eighteen-year-old girl, he classed her as another of the spoiled darlings that were sometimes sent to him; but he soon saw his mistake. "You certainly didn't look like that," he cried, in admiration. "I should hope I didn't look like a Bach fugue," was the unexpected reply; and a lifelong friendship was begun.
Every fair-minded person will admit that no woman should be barred from composing, whether on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. But there are many who think that woman is handicapped by nature, and cannot reach the highest flights of achievement. Liza Lehmann herself expresses a belief in such physical drawbacks. Others claim that women are merely imitative, and not original in any great degree. It is true that no woman has entered the first rank of composers, but that need not prevent one from doing so in the future.

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