When we launched the topic “Women in Music” we weren’t going to expect either feminist contributions or texts focusing on gender studies exclusively. Whoever may want to do a statistics of the authors featuring in the five previous issues of Musicology Today will notice that we are by no means short of women (and we certainly are an exclusively “feminine” editorial board!). The articles in our sixth issue will now match this status quo, whilst maintaining a male predominance when it comes to the authors, for the sake of balance…
It is remarkable – as the reader will notice immediately – how three entirely unconnected authors propose three profiles of female composers who are connected by many things: their space of origin (the South-East-European one), the fact of drawing inspiration from oral sources (whether Byzantine or folk), the fact that they are too little known in the West and, in the case of two of them, the ideological and musical atmosphere under the communist dictatorship.
Melita Milin (Belgrade) employs her characteristic seriousness in the service of researching the world of a female composer who explored musical avant-garde, socialist realism and medieval, Byzantine Serbian music. Finding common features between Ljubica Marić (1909–2003) and other East-European composers remains a task for musicologists in the region. The author herself indicates possible comparisons with musicians who resorted to Byzantine sources under communism: the Greek Petros Petrides and the Romanians Paul Constantinescu and Sigismund Toduță.
John Plemmenos (Athens) brings to our attention an unprecedented figure, portrayed from the perspective of her published biography. Settled in the USA, married to the Nobel runner-up poet Angelos Sikelianou, a great admirer of festivals in Delphi (which she tried to revive) and of the woman poet Sappho, Eva Palmer-Sikelianou (1875-1952) signs a set of fascinating performances of diatonic chromatic, enharmonic Byzantine modes from the viewpoint of a theory of sexes. You will be reading about how “Melody is the male element and harmony the female”…
Finally, Thomas Beimel (Wuppertal), the composer and musicologist who in 1994 wrote a wonderful book on Myriam Marbe (1931-1997), Vom Ritual zur Abstraktion. Über die rumänische Komponistin Myriam Marbe (Tokkata Verlag für Frauenforschung), now resumes a few thoughts about the most prominent woman composer of the Romanian musical avant-garde after 1960. Music under dictatorship, composition for children’s choir, a folk ritual impulse – all of these can be found in the piece Shrieks, the starting point of Beimel’s essay.
Even the section Thoughts brings to the fore a musician, this time a performer. Grigore Constantinescu evokes Lucia Bercescu Țurcanu (1911-1995) and her impressive career: the soprano whose birth we celebrate 100 years from is considered one of the most important operatic voices in the world.
(English translation by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru)