Women in Guitar History

May 23, 2019

(Originally Posted 2016)

 

Introduction

 

In 2006, I presented a lecture at the Bethlehem Guitar Festival celebrating the contributions of women to the world of guitar as performers, composers and philanthropists. I shared biographies and music from female musicians associated with a variety of musical styles. Since that time, I have continued to study such contributions within the classical genre and I have had the opportunity to give additional lectures for concert series, guitar festivals, libraries and public school events.

 

Much has changed since I first began collecting information. In the decade since the Bethlehem lecture, the internet has made available resources that were once quite difficult to obtain. I reflect upon sitting on the floor of a library physically searching through decades of journals, mail-ordering used, out-of-production recordings and books at expenses that were difficult for a graduate student to manage, and graciously being gifted LP’s and other saved treasures that assisted my search for information. Although my doctoral thesis focused on Ida Presti, I collected resources about other guitarists, especially items pertaining to Luise Walker and Maria Luisa Anido. I look back on this decade with nostalgia and I am very happy to have physical evidence of my searches, however, the digital age has made possible an incredible ability to access, store and share information.

 

Throughout Women’s History Month in 2015, I shared short essays, videos and scores highlighting the contributions of women guitarists with a primary focus on historic figures who composed. Those items were shared on my Facebook page. I plan to eventually revise the postings into more formal writings and add information from my ongoing lectures and research. As this is a labor of love, it will take time and it is an ongoing project. 

 

Below, I have provided introductions to a few select artists as well as links to the original Facebook posts and resources. By visiting the Facebook posts, you will be able to view the comments for each post: it is in the comments of the Facebook posts that you will find additional links to videos, sheet music, etc.

 

As it is important to cite sources for information and seek reputable sources, I have made an effort to list or link to the sources I have used. Since these entries are informal and the blog template presents some limitations, I have not formatted the sources into APA or Turabian styles.

 

This project is ongoing and I revisit it from time to time with updates to this page. Clearly, it is not a definitive list: it is simply a beginning. Overtime, it will grow. Please continue to check back.

 


Francesca Caccini (1587-ca. 1645)

 

Original Facebook Post:  

https://www.facebook.com/candicemowbray/posts/10153123869850902

 

Francesca Caccini (1587-ca. 1645) was an Italian composer and virtuosic singer who played guitar, lute, harp and keyboard. She taught instrumental performance in addition to voice and composition. Francesca's mother, sister and stepmother also possessed musical talents and her father was Giulio Caccini, a key figure in the early development of opera. Giulio, who was a singer as well as a lutenist and composer, participated in the famed discussions of the Florentine Camerata and is credited with establishing the use of monodic texture and creating stile recitativo.(1)

 

The first woman to compose opera, Francesca worked for the Medici court from 1607-27 and was the most highly paid musician in the court during the 1620's.(2) Published in 1618, her Il primo libro delle musiche (First book of music) was dedicated to the Cardinal de'Medici and consists of monodic repertoire. Her "La liberazione di Ruggiero (The liberation of Ruggiero) from 1625 was the first Italian opera performed outside of Italy."(3) She contributed music to works by Rinuccini, Buonarroti, Saracinelli and Cicognini, and her surviving arias include Dove io credea and Ch'io sia fidele.

 

Doris Silbert's edition of "Aria of the Shepherd" from La Liberazione di Ruggiero and Carolyn Raney's transcription of "Maria, dolce Maria" from Il Primo Libro are included in the 2004 Indian University Press publication, New Historical Anthology of Music by Women. This publication includes an essay about Caccini written by Suzanne Cusick and a brief list of suggested readings. Among those readings is the book, Francesca Caccini's Ill primo libro delle musiche of 1618: A Modern Critical Edition of the Secular Monodies, written by guitarists and lutenists, Ronald James Alexander and Richard Savino. Alexander and Savino's book contains seventeen secular monodies for one and two voices with figured bass accompaniment as well as text translations, essays and commentary on performance practices.

 

Works Cited:

(1) K. Marie Stolba, The Development of Western Music: A History, Brief Second Edition ( Madison, WI: Brown and Benchmark, 1995), 199.

(2) Italian Women's Writers Library. http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/efts/IWW/BIOS/A0083.html (accessed March 14, 2015).

(3) Stolba, 200.

 

Other sources:

-Indiana University Press. http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php… (accessed March 14, 2015).

-James R. Briscoe, New Historical anthology of Music by Women (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004), 48-59.

-Naxos. http://www.naxos.com/person/Giulio_Caccini (accessed March 14, 2015).
 


Regina Strinasacchi (ca. 1761-1839)
 

Original Facebook Post:
https://www.facebook.com/candicemowbray/posts/10153116257465902?fref=nf

Regina Strinasacchi is best known as the violinist for whom Mozart composed the Sonata in B-flat Major k454 but she was also a guitarist of exceptional skill. She was born near Mantua in 1764 and trained at the conservatory of the Ospedale della Pieta (the institute of Vivaldi fame) in Italy. She also received some training in Paris. While in her 20's, Strinasacchi traveled through Italy. In 1784, she went to Vienna for two performances at the National Court Theater and performed the Sonata in B-flat with Mozart during the second concert. Her female contemporaries include Maria Anna Mozart (Wolfgang's sister), Maria Theresia von Paradis (a virtuoso pianist who wrote concertos and whose operas were staged) and Nancy Storace (soprano). She married an esteemed cellist of the ducal chapel at Gotha and, after his death, moved to Dresden. She died in 1839. Although Strinasacchi's successes are most associated with violin performance, multiple biographical resources include reference to her skill as a guitarist, placing her in the same time frame and geography of many figures in this golden age of the guitar.

Sources (unformatted):
-Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians Vol. 4, pg.726-7
-Musical Times, October 1, 1906, Vol. 47
-Guitar and Mandolin: Biographies of Celebrated Players and Composers for These Instruments by Philip James Bone
-Sudden Genius? by Andrew Robinson
-http://violinvirtuosas.weebly.com/schlick.html (provided links to other resources)
-http://www.chambermusicinstitute.com/Women_and_the_Violin_2…

 

 

Vahdah Olcott-Bickford (1885-1980)

 

Vahdah Olcott-Bickford is regularly featured in my lectures but my essay and Facebook post for this important figure in American guitar history is still forthcoming. In the meantime, please enjoy her arrangement of Carrie Jacob Bond's parlor song, "I Love You Truly," published in 1901: https://youtu.be/7Dl_teis8ho

 

 

 

Josefina Robledo (1892-1972)

 

Original Facebook Post:
https://www.facebook.com/candicemowbray/posts/10153137670250902

***Most of the information from this post came from my rough translation of the Altrecorde website. Please visit the website listed in the works cited for the original article.


Guitarist Josefina Robledo was born in Valencia on May 10, 1892 and died in Godella on May, 25, 1972. She began her studies with Francisco Tarrega at the age of seven.(1) During a lecture in 1959, Robledo shared personal recounts of their first meeting and her consequent studies with Tarrega as well as time she spent caring for him. A transcription of that lecture and excerpts from letters by Tarrega to Robledo can be read by visiting http://altre-corde.blogspot.com/p/maestri.html.

Robledo moved to Buenos Aires in 1914 and gave concerts in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. "She performed in Sao Paulo in the same period as Barrios and Canhoto. Her refined style created a sensation in the city, not only because of the high level of her performance skills but also due to the fact that she was a female virtuoso, something rarely seen at that time." (2) Robledo returned in Spain in 1924, performing many concerts, but ended her concert career after being married in 1927. She continued to play for friends and give occasional performances. One of those concerts occurred November 20, 1952, for the centenary of the birth of Tárrega, with Pepita Roca, Daniel Fortea and Emilio Pujol. (3)

Photos of her published transcription of Chopin's "Marche Funebre" appear on the Altrecorde website. One of those photos shows the back page of the publication where a list of other published transcriptions by Robledo appears. Some of these publications can be accessed through the Royal Danish Library. Links appear in the comments of this post.

Works Cited:
(1) Altrecorde: Maestri. Accessed March 20, 2015. http://altre-corde.blogspot.com/p/maestri.html.
(2) Figueiroa da Cruz, Joao Paulo, “An Annotated Bibliography of Works by the Brazilian Composer Sergio Assad” (2008). Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 4460.
(3) Altrecorde: Maestri.

Other Sources:
Josefina Robledo Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Godella. Accessed March 20, 2015. https://josefinarobledo.wordpress.com/


 

 

Maria Luisa Anido (1907-1996)

Original Facebook Post:

https://www.facebook.com/candicemowbray/posts/10153112851045902

Maria Luisa Anido was born near Buenos Aires in 1907 and died in Spain in 1996. She studied guitar with Domingo Prat and Miguel Llobet, and also had some lessons with Josefina Robledo, a student of Tarrega. Her concert debut was at the age of ten and, in 1925, she performed in duet with Llobet. Recordings of the duo from that time period were included on Volume 9 of the "Pioneers of the Classic Guitar" series from the DOREMI record label.

Anido taught in Argentina for over 50 years and was a professor of guitar at the National Conservatoire of Music in Buenos Aires. Anido moved to Cuba where she taught and was named Doctoris Honoris Causa by the National Institute of Art, Havana. In her later life, she moved to Barcelona, Spain. In addition to teaching, touring and recording, Anido composed and arranged for guitar. Her compositions include "Aire Norteño" and "Nana."

Sources (unformatted):
The Classical Guitar by Maurice Summerfield

Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries Volume 4, DOREMI, liner notes

Andres Segovia and His Contemporaries Volume 6, DOREMI, liner notes
Clara Campese http://www.claracampese.it/clara/mlanido_biografia.htm


 


Luise Walker (1910-1998)

Original Facebook Post:

https://www.facebook.com/candicemowbray/posts/10153110121125902

Along with Ida Presti (1924-1967) and Maria Luisa Anido (1907-1996), Luise Walker (1910-1998) was one of the pre-war era guitarists referenced as the "Grand Dames" of the guitar. She took her first guitar lessons at eight years of age and was able to have lessons with Heinrich Albert and Miguel Llobet. Possessed with "formidable technique" and "a musicality whose warmth was comparably expressed in her willingness to help others,"(1) Walker became Professor of Guitar at the State Musical Academy in Vienna, made many concert tours and composed solos, studies and arrangements. Her "Kleine Romanze" is often performed.

Works Cited (unformatted):

(1) John Duarte's comments from Classical Guitar

 

Other Sources (unformatted):
Classical Guitar Magazine, November 1998
The Classical Guitar by Maurice Summerfield





Lali “Lalyta” Delfina Almirón (1914-1997)
 

Original Facebook Post:
https://www.facebook.com/candicemowbray/posts/10153250976520902

 

A biography can be obtained at:

http://cabildoccr.gov.py/partituras-originales-de-agustin-barrios-seran-donados-al-congreso/

Video Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vmN5bl94WY

 

 


Ida Presti (1924-1967)

 

Thesis: Ida Presti as a Solo Performer and Composer of Works for Solo Guitar by Mowbray, Candice, D.M.A., Shenandoah University, 2012, 113; 3537481

 

Thesis Abstract:

 

Ida Presti (1924-1967) was one of history's greatest classical guitarists. Her extraordinary technique was matched by incredible musicianship. Remembered largely for her contributions to the guitar-duet medium, Presti was a child prodigy and gave many concerts as a soloist before she and her husband, Alexandre Lagoya (1929-1999), dedicated their careers to performing as a duo. Her few released solo recordings reveal that her virtuosity and musicality were evident early in her career. Throughout her lifetime, Presti's playing exhibited unique vitality and stunning facility. Esteemed colleagues remember Presti with fondness and reverence, considering her untimely death to be a great loss for the guitar community.

 

Presti's solo career and compositions for solo guitar are the primary focus of the study. Historical perspective is offered to determine possible influences on her education and repertoire. Her solo recordings and compositions were examined to identify aspects of her technique and interpretive style. Additionally, the study includes a discussion of select works written in homage to Presti. Through these efforts, it is anticipated that readers will be encouraged to listen to Presti's recordings and perform her compositions and the works written in her honor.

 

Access thesis: "Ida Presti as a Solo Performer and Composer of Works for Solo Guitar" http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/search.html#abstract?dispub=3537481

 

Read article: "Recordings to Revisit," published in Soundboard, 2013 http://publications.guitarfoundation.org/sb393/files/assets/basic-html/page68.html

 

Listen to my recordings:

 

Etude du matin by Ida Presti: https://open.spotify.com/track/3YloJbGAoGavkHG9nX1VX8

 

Danse rythmique by Ida Presti: https://open.spotify.com/track/04hmFADtAnCiv0Du4LAzjk

 

Etude no. 2 by Ida Presti: https://open.spotify.com/track/62zuRtfKIZPO1eWlrRCStg

 

Sarabande (dedicated to Presti) by Francis Poulenc: https://open.spotify.com/track/7gQYSLZCDPwYRHEfnlUl7v

 

Reverie (dedicated to Presti) by Alexandre Lagoya: https://open.spotify.com/track/3Lfno5Hjj3hB8gqNQYUaGG

 

To Be Added
Madame Sydney Pratten

Renata Tarrago (1927-2005)

Rosita Rodes

Pepita Roca

Luisa M. de Roca

Matilde Cuervas

Nelly Ezcaray

Maria Angelica Funes

Teresa de Rogatis

Blanca Prat

Maria Rita Brondi (1889 -1941)

Madeline Cottin (1876 -after 1952)

Julie Fondard (ca.1819 -1864)

Madame De Goni (Madame Knoop)

 

 


 

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