We all know who Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart was; one of the most famous composer prodigies of the 18th century and all time. However, most of us don’t know he also had a sister, Maria Anna, who was just as much of a prodigy as her brother, but wasn’t given the same opportunities due to the fact that she was a woman.
Sakira Ventura is a music teacher from Valencia who wanted to shine a bright spotlight on Maria and any other woman in music who has been lost and forgotten due to sexist societal values. To do so, Ventura created an interactive map that features more than 500 female composers from across the globe.
“We’ve never given women the place they deserve in history. They don’t appear in musical history books, their works aren’t played at concerts and their music isn’t recorded.”
“I came up with the idea after realizing I had rarely heard of women who had composed classical music during my academic studies of music. I had always talked about putting these composers on the map – so it occurred to me to do it literally,” she explained.
To create the map, Ventura did extensive research into encyclopedias, libraries, and social media archives.
“When I started I thought I wouldn’t know more than five female composers, but after more than a year and hundreds of hours of work, the site documents 530 composers – including a short description of each one and a link to listen to their work.”
Ventura is currently working on cycling through another 500 names to add onto the map as well. The catalogue currently includes artists who were born all the way back in 810, who wrote hymns that are still sung in the Orthodox Church to this day.
Ventura explained that women are often erased from music history, especially classical music, due to the fact that at the time music was only seen as a hobby for women, and could never be taken up professionally.
“It was taken for granted that a work composed by a woman wouldn’t be of the same quality as that composed by a man. The barriers forced female composers to get creative; some enrolled in convents in order to study music while others published works under male pseudonyms.”
Ventura has even collaborated with other teachers on the map who are using it as a part of their lessons now. “I’m 28 years old and nobody ever spoke to me about female composers,” she said. “So I want to do what hasn’t [been] done for me, I want my students to know that [Wolfgang Amadeus] Mozart and Beethoven existed but also that there were also all these female composers.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.