Thursday, May 23, 2024

Women Conductors Break Some Barriers


The Vienna Philharmonic was founded in 1844.  For the first time in their 180 years of male exclusivity, the Vienna Philharmonic has invited a woman to conduct a subscription concert.  180 years of misogyny! 

Breaking that 180 year record, Lithuanian born Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla will make her debut with the orchestra on May 3, 2025.   She is the former music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony, has conducted at the Bavarian State Opera and the Proms.  She is the first female conductor to sign an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.   

Another hurdle for women conductors was made at the Metropolitan Opera.  Since the 1880s the Metropolitan Opera has had only four women conductors grace their podium including Sarah Caldwell, Simone Young, Jane Glover and Susanna Mälkki.

On April 19th Oksana Lyniv conducted Puccini’s “Turandot,” April 20th Speranza Scappucci conducted Puccini’s “La Rodine,” April 23rd saw Marin Alsop conduct the Met premiere of John Adams’ “El Niño” and Xian Zhang conducted “Madama Butterfly” on April 26th.  Four women conductors, in just one week, broke through the Metropolitan Opera’s male dominated podium. 


The creative process of making music at the highest levels is a lifetime of work, study and fortitude.  We have now witnessed nine accomplished conductors make history by breaking down barriers that have existed for over 100 years.

My question has always been, “Why do we not have a woman conductor as a Music Director of a major symphony orchestra or opera house?”  WHY?  It’s time to tear down the misogynistic barriers around the conductor’s podium.  The word “conductor” has no gender. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Why don't we talk about Arthur P. Schmidt?


Over the years that I have written my blog, Arthur P. Schmidt, publisher has been the topic of three of my postings.  His company, The Arthur P. Schmidt Co. of Boston, Leipzig and New York, was a premiere music publishing company of the era.  As I have said in my previous posts, Mr. Schmidt promoted American composers and in particular American women composers.  He was a person of vision, of musical integrity with his belief in our nation’s composers.  BRAVO, Mr. Schmidt.

Recently an October 2017 blog posting titled, “Why don’t we talk about Arthur P. Schmidt”? came to my attention.  The blog was written by a student at St. Olaf  College in Minnesota who was taking the course: Music 345: Race, Identity, and Representation in American Music


What struck me about this posting was the sense of discovery, observation, understanding of the music world in the world of business, conclusions made and a new awareness of the important music publishing person, Arthur P. Schmidt.

Siriana, the blog author, has written a post that has direct effect on the understanding of our country’s music publishing industry during the late 19th and into the mid 20th century.  Required reading……indeed.

 Thank you Siriana.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

CCM Speaks


It is an honor to have been chosen to be one of four presenters at the first "CCM Speaks."  The College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati has invited alumni to give presentations about a pivotal project or moment in your career that challenged you to think outside the box, take action, and do something new.”


On Friday, April  19th at 7 PM in the Cohen Family Studio Theater at the Conservatory, I will present “Gena Branscombe:  A  Woman Composer Lost – Now Found.”


Below is the hyperlink to the event.


Friday, March 8, 2024

2024 Scholarship Announcement

The Gena Branscombe Project
proud to announce that 
applications for its
2024 scholarships 
are now open!

Go to our website:



Monday, March 4, 2024

Boston Landmarks Orchestra


Thank you to the Boston Landmarks Orchestra for creating and making available this video about Gena Branscombe!  Click on the hyperlink below.

With Miss Branscombe's close ties to Boston, I hope that some day the orchestra will program her "Pilgrims of Destiny."  


Friday, February 16, 2024

Colleges of the Fenway Orchestra - Festival Prelude/Festival March


On Monday, February 12th, the Colleges of the Fenway Orchestra rehearsed Gena Branscombe’s 1914 piece, “Festival Prelude/Festival March.” 


What made this rehearsal special?  It is the first rehearsal and soon to be first performance of the original orchestration of this piece in over 100 years.  And, to add more to this explanation, the original orchestral work is in Miss Branscombe’s manuscript at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  From scanned photos of the manuscript, the piece was transcribed into Finale, note by note by note, for the rehearsal to happen! 

 Damali Willingham, The Gena Branscombe Project’s 2020 Composer scholarship winner, took on the task of re-creating the score from its original instrumentation.  When a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Damali arranged this same piece for wind ensemble and conducted the performance in Spring 2022.  Damali is one talented musician and a wonderful, positive person! 


Thanks to Dan Ryan for programming Gena’s “Festival Prelude/Festival March” for the Colleges of Fenway Spring concert on Wednesday, March 27th.  Thanks also to his orchestra for their dedicated work leading up to their performance. 

                                                                    Gena Branscombe 


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

"Antonia: A Portrait of a Woman" - Antonia Brico


Writing about symphony orchestra conductor Antonia Brico (1902-1989) for the second time is quite the honor.  This past Saturday, February 3rd, at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, I attended a showing of the 1974 Academy Award nominated documentary film,  “Antonia: A Portrait of a Woman.” In the audience on Saturday were the movie’s producers and directors, Judy Collins and Jill Godmilow, who spoke of their experiences making the documentary.

In the late 1970s, the movie was shown on PBS, which I watched because I had met Dr. Brico in 1977 when she conducted a concert for a summer string program at the conservatory in Cincinnati.  What you see of her in the movie is exactly who she was in real life; a dedicated musician, exacting in rehearsals, thoughtful and kind. 

 “Antonia: A Portrait of a Woman,” has been remastered and is available to watch on YouTube.  After you click on the hyperlink, take 57 minutes to learn about this remarkable woman conductor who broke down barriers in the 1930s and faced  discrimination her entire career. 

There is always a connection to Gena Branscombe in my blog!  In the small world of classical music Miss Branscombe and Antonia Brico’s lives crossed paths.  Gena organized a meeting, gala concert and dinner for the New York Matinee Musicale in December 1935.  She engaged composers Amy Beach and Marion Bauer as well as Antonia Brico as speakers for the event.