- 25 Plus Piano Solo. 25 Jahre Frau und Musik. Jubiläumsausgabe, and: Fanny Hensel: Klaviermusik—eine Auswahl
In 2005 the German publisher Furore issued 25 Plus Piano Solo, a new collection of piano pieces celebrating twenty-five years of the German organization Internationaler Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik, and a selection of eight piano works by Fanny Hensel to honor her two hundredth birthday. Dedicated to exclusively publishing works by women composers since its inception in 1986, Furore's catalog already has an impressive number of works by Hensel, several of them made available to the public for the very first time.
Frau und Musik was founded by conductor Elke Mascha Blankenburg, who in 1977 began researching women composers in the Institute of Musicology in Cologne with stunning results. Blankenburg unearthed operas, symphonies, and chamber music from virtually every time period. She soon published an article entitled "Forgotten Women Composers" in the feminist magazine Emma with a call to found an international organization dedicated to reviving and performing works by women composers. She recalled knowing only four names of women composers when she began, but within one week she had found 110 names just in this one musicological research institute. A first meeting with twenty-two like-minded musicians took place in 1978. A year later three thousand names of composers had been found and listed. The archives of the Arbeitskreis have been the centerpiece of the organization ever since, steadily growing into a unique international collection. Today it includes over twenty thousand archived works by or about women composers, including a research library, a large collection of recordings, and several estates of women composers. The archives moved from Blankenburg's home to Düsseldorf (1981) and then to Kassel (1988) and have been housed in Frankfurt since 2001. [End Page 89]
To celebrate Frau und Musik's twenty-fifth anniversary twenty-seven composers each donated a three- to five-minute piano piece. All of the compositions were performed during a four-hour concert in Frankfurt, and Furore subsequently published 25 Plus Piano Solo, a beautiful hardcopy that includes a short biography of each composer and (in most cases) composer's notes, which often prove very helpful for a deeper understanding of each piece. A big plus is that all composers' notes, bios, the preface, and laudatios are in both German and English. While the English translations are not flawless, they help make this volume much more accessible for an international audience.
Most composers are from Eastern and Western Europe, some are from Argentina, Israel, and the United States, and many of them are currently based in Germany. Well-known artists such as Violeta Dinescu, Gloria Coates, Susanne Erding Swiridoff, Maria de Alvear, Vivienne Olive, Barbara Heller, Siegrid Ernst, along with lesser-known Ukrainian Ludmila Yurina and Poland's Bernadetta Matuszcak have created a fascinating body of work spanning a variety of styles and approaches to twentieth-century piano vocabulary.
The pieces vary in difficulty from very accessible to highly complex, virtuosic works and thus are a great resource for students and professionals alike. Some works draw from dance and folkloric traditions around the world, such as Görsch's rhythmically energetic trilogy "Piano Latinero" and Eva Schorr's "Tango 25." Others refer to earlier musical periods: Ruth McGuire's "Five Lyrical Miniatures" are inspired by Frescobaldi, Florentine Mulsant wrote an homage to Scarlatti, Vivienne Olive titled her work "Prometheus Meets Purcell," Matilde Capuis wrote a Baroque-style chorale, and Margarete Sorg-Rose composed a modern corrente.
While most pieces are newly created especially for this anthology, some composers submitted older works. Ruth Schonthal's virtuosic "Toccata and Arietta" (1989) is a competition piece for young pianists. Ursula Görsch's trilogy, with an habanera, a carioca, and a tzortziko (1986), exemplifies her deep interest in Latin, Afro-Caribbean, and African music. Liana Alexandra's free-flowing "Cadenza" (1992) is part of her sonata...