Do we still need to celebrate International Women’s Day, some wise-crack asked yesterday. Of course!
We need to continue to point out inequality, fight for women’s rights, ensure these and other topics related to being a woman the world over. As shown recently by a rant in the European Parliament: International Women’s Day is still needed to highlight the plight of women the world over.
In Britain, one of the acts to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, was a premiere of a piano-sonata. A piano-sonata attributed to a man, but actually written and first performed by its female composer in 1829.
Most people are familiar with Felix Mendelssohn and his music. Not that many know this composer and performer had an elder sister who was a talented musician. Even fewer people know she composed at least 500 pieces. Many of her works were and may well still be attributed to her brother.
Today, on International Women’s Day, a work attributed to Felix Mendelssohn but written by his sister, finally premiered in Britain. Fanny Hegel-Mendelsohn’s “Easter Piano-Sonata” was performed as a lunchtime concert at the Royal College of Music. The performance was dedicated to “women composers who have suffered unjust neglect.”
It took an analysis of handwriting and corrections on the original manuscript, as well as the tracking down of the manuscript to a private archive in France, to correct the wrong attribution. Of course, the detective work was carried out by a woman.
Fanny mentioned the sonata and having performed it in her diary. Yet it was attributed to her brother, for “… The composer subjugating her outstanding creative gifts to the roles of housewife and mother imposed on her by the society she lived in.” Even Wikipedia still lists Fanny Hegel-Mendelssohn as a “well-known pianist and amateur composer”.
Such remarks, as well as behaviour and opinions held by people like Donald, Janusz Korwin-Mikke and far too many others, make celebrating International Women’s Day compulsory – the world over!