2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Fine Arts

Women Composers in the English Renaissance: A Matter of Policy
Heather R. Nelson♦
Dr. Jay Bulen, Faculty Mentor

During the Renaissance, women across Europe enjoyed unprecedented freedom of expression in the arts. Many women developed distinguished careers as composers. Despite the reign of a progressive and strong queen, England remains conspicuously quiet during this period. Two main possibilities are explored to explain the lack of English female composers. First, it is probable many women did, in fact, compose, possibly even prolifically, but their material simply does not survive because of lack of publication or contemporary interest. Second, and more importantly, policies of the crown, particularly regarding religion, indirectly suppressed women’s freedom to publicly express their artistic abilities. These policies would have caused women to confine their compositions to private use inside the home, and may never have been heard by anyone else. Therefore, Queen Elizabeth I and her government have deprived us of the legacy of female composers active during the English Renaissance.

Keywords: Renaissance, England, women, composers, Queen Elizabeth I, government policy, education, music

Topic(s):Music

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 3-4
Location: OP 2113
Time: 9:15

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♦ Indicates Truman Graduate Student
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