Women has been a key part of music since 11th century. Although it sounds quite old, their fame and popularity is relatively new compared to human history.
One reason for this situation was, what society in Medieval and Classical Era Europe, the time and place which led to huge development in music, expected women to behave in certain ways and do certain things. There have been exceptional figures like Fanny Mendelssohn ve Clara Schumann, yet women have gained the respect and place they deserve in 19th and 20th centuries.
Let’s take a look at our list of famous female musicians.
Fanny was the sister of Felix Mendelssohn, another Romantic Era composer from Germany. She has composed many beautiful pieces especially for piano. Most of her work is instrumental and it is stated that Fanny Mendelssohn has 460 compositions.
Born in Leipzig, German composer Clara Schumann was a well-known musician of Romantic Era. She was also married to Robert Schumann, who was a composer as well and a highly respected music critic.
Amy Beach was America’s first women composer whose pieces were consumed by masses. What makes her even more special is, she made all her compositions without teachings of European School. Her very well known “Gaelic Symphony” was performed by Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1896.
Janis Lyn Joplin, Janis Joplin in short, was a prominent figure in modern rock and soul music. Her legendary performance at Woodstock ‘69 can still be listened today with joy and Joplin has recorded many other beautiful songs in her 27-year-old life.
Besides her singer and actress identity, Whitney Houston has also got her name in Guinness World Records! She has won the title of “most award winning female singer of all times” and she is one of the most popular singers of all times. Passed away in 2012, Houston left 14 albums, countlessly many singles and millions of fans behind.
Mutter is one of the most successful violin players today. She started learning piano at the age of 5 and then violin. Herbert von Karajan invited Mutter to perform with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra when she was only 13. Mutter has many different music awards, including Grammy’s.
Winehouse, another important female figure of modern music, has composed many different songs with her guitar which she bought when she was 14. She got famous at the speed of a lightning with her albums “Frank” and “Back to Black”. Unfortunately, this young talented musician passed away due to alcohol poisoning.
Not only a musician but also a painter, Semiha Berksoy got her first music education in Istanbul Conservatoire. She then moved to Germany, to study opera in Berlin State Academy. Berksoy has a special place in Turkish music history: she became the “first Turkish opera artist to appear in a European piece” with her role as Ariadne in Robert Schumann’s “Ariadne auf Naxos”.
Ayla was one of the most prominent names in Classical Turkish Music. Having more than 500 studio records, Ayla was considered to be a part of “Three Great Maples” of Turkish Music along Müzeyyen Senar and Hamiyet Yüceses. It is also stated that Ayla’s music was highly appreciated by the founder of modern Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
We have just mentioned “Three Great Maples” and Müzeyyen Senar being a part of it. Senar started her music career in 1931 with Anatolian Musical Association and got music education from kemenche virtuoso Kemal Niyazi Seyhun and oud player Hayriye. Moving on to TRT, Senar became famous in a short amount of time and has been an active member of music community until 2006. She got paralyzed due to cerebral infarction in 2006 and passed away in 2015.
Turkish Opera singer Leyla Gencer was born in Polonezköy, near Istanbul to a Polish mother and a Turkish father. Her music education started in Istanbul Conservatoire, however she moved to Ankara to train privately with Giannina Arangi-Lombardi. Gencer sang for Turkish state chorus then moved to Italy and started touring around the world as of 1953. She remained as an active performer until 1982. Gencer passed away in 2008 and her ashes was scattered to Bosphorus by Fazil Say, according to her wish.
A highly respected Turkish violin player, Ayla Erduran is a student of Karl Berger. She gave her first recital at the age of 10 and studied at Paris International Conservatoire between 1946 and 1951. After her graduation, Erduran moved to United States to work with Ivan Galamian and Zino Francescatti. She performed many concerts around the world and became a State Artist in 1971.
Another State Artist for modern Turkish Republic, Sefika Kutluer, started her music education in Ankara State Conservatoire. Although Kutluer started with piano training, she then moved on to flute and became a virtuoso on this instrument in time. Being not only an important musician for Turkey, Kutluer is also worldwide known and she is even named as “Magical Flute” by The New York Times.