Female composers have made their way in the face of prejudice and opposition. For a long time the prejudice prevailed that women lack the requisite creative talent to compose great music. It is indeed true that women have been less active in the field of musical composition than their male contemporaries, but reasons for this are found in the social circumstances of the recent past:
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the ages of the Enlightenment and the flowering of great achievement in music, women were denied the education and encouragement which would have made individual accomplishment possible beyond the limits of domestic music-making. In spite of these hindrances there were highly gifted women who overcame the hurdles and were able to prove their talent for composition. Of course these belonged to the wealthy middle and upper classes, or were women from musical families who were able to receive a thorough training.
This selection, comprising 19 female composers from eight countries, cannot claim to be completely representative, both because it is limited to the period from the eighteenth century to the present, and because there is, as yet, no systematic catalogue of the autographs and printed editions in archives and libraries. But our editors are happy that this publication is worthwhile and justified, and that each of the pieces can speak for itself.
Women will in future pursue musical composition amid a manifest change in society's view of women and its attitude towards them.