November 4, 2021 marked what would have been Gena Branscombe’s 140th birthday. Well, it was her 140th birthday. This landmark was posted on my Facebook page along with a picture of Gena smiling into the camera. Friends and colleagues responded with encouraging remarks which touched me deeply.
That same day the BBC Philharmonic, on their Facebook page, posted
a short bio and beautiful sketch of Miss Branscombe acknowledging her birthday
and her career. What a surprise and honor
for her and her family.
Composer, pianist and educator Gena Branscombe was #BornOnThisDay in 1881.
During her lifetime, the talented composer had 74 of her choral compositions published by 22 different music companies, along with 150 art songs, 13 piano pieces and 8 instrumental works
She followed composer Amy Beach to be elected President of the Society of American Women Composers in the late 1920s
At age 40, she began conducting lessons. She was the much loved director of her own chorus, the Branscombe Choral which, from 1934-54 was a huge part of New York's musical landscape
Two postings on Instagram gave tribute to Miss Branscombe’s birthday as well. Recognizing this spirited, prolific composer 44 years after her death proves the esteem with which she is held.
🎈 Happy Birthday to Canadian composer, pianist, conductor and teacher, Gena Branscombe, born #onthisday in 1881.
Branscombe worked predominantly in the US after studying at Chicago Musical College, where she also worked on the faculty after graduation. She composed more than 150 art songs, piano and chamber music, orchestral works, and music for chorus. She also started writing an opera, called The Bells of Circumstance, which she never finished.
The Gena Branscombe Project began with performing two of her art songs on a recital then morphing into a CD recording and a one-woman show, which then became the non-profit The Gena Branscombe Project that awards scholarships and promotes performances of her music. The future holds republishing her music and especially her thrilling dramatic oratorio, Pilgrims of Destiny.
#BringingBackBranscombe is happening each and every day for this remarkable woman who richly deserves to be known once again in the music world at large.
In the blink of an eye, twenty years of work has taught me about a woman composer whose life and career inspires me daily to keep moving forward with my passion. Hard work does pay off.