Welcome back for week three of the “Rock Your Socks” composer series! In case this is your first week on my blog, make sure to check out my previous blog posts about Amy Beach and Fanny Mendelssohn. Both were truly incredible composers that few have heard about. Throughout the course of my blog, I’ll be inserting the occasional four-week series about different composers you should know about. This month, I’ve been writing about female composers in history in honor of Women’s History month.
To introduce the next composer of this series, I have to do a little bit of a preface. Without trying to diminish neither Fanny Mendelssohn’s nor Amy Beach’s incredible compositions, I have to admit that their particular styles are not my first choice when I want to listen to classical music. For the most part, I have a few favorite pieces from each that are on my classical music playlist. Cecile Chaminade, however, makes the top five in my list of favorite composers. Her flute and piano compositions are not only impressive when it comes to the technical elements of the music, but each piece feels like it takes the listener on an emotional journey or tells a story. (And, in fact, much of what she wrote was for ballets and operas, so I guess I’m not far off). They have almost a cinematic quality to them that keeps me riveted through the whole piece, and leaves me wanting more at the end! So, basically, Cecile Chaminade knows how to use magic. There’s no other explanation.
Now for the facts: Cecile Chaminade was born in France in 1857. She received her first music lessons from her mother, who was an accomplished pianist and singer. Cecile began composing at seven years old. When she was of age, her father would not allow her to study at the Paris Conservatory of Music, but she was allowed to study privately with Conservatory professors. She later toured the United States, (including performances at the historic Carnegie Hall) and Europe, frequently performing for Queen Victoria. She was the first female to be awarded a position in the the Legion of Honor, and even inspired women across the United States to form musical societies called “Chaminade Clubs.” Throughout her life, Chaminade is speculated to have written approximately 400 pieces, publishing around 200 of them during her lifetime. Cecile died on April 13, 1944
If you’re looking for a fantastic piece from the late Romantic period, I would recommend Chaminade’s Arabesque no. 1, Opus 61. You will not regret it. The motive and sequences she uses throughout elicited an emotional response when I first heard it, (my eyes fogged up ok? It happens. I'm sure it was just allergies or something....) Really though, it is so, so beautiful. For any piano families reading this blog, I strongly encourage you to check out more of Chaminade’s work, maybe share some facts you learned about her with your family, and spread the word! There really are very few who know about these accomplished composers, and I would love to do my part in helping others discover their amazing contributions to classical music!
Thanks so much for joining me as I geek out about these stunning composers. I hope you can join me next week for the fourth and final installment of this little series. See you next time!