Today, for the third instalment of this blog series on female guitar composers, I have decided to talk about women who are both performers and composers. I am aware that I have already listed several who fit into this category in previous posts: Madame Sidney Pratten, Emilia Giuliani-Guglielmi, Ida Presti, Olga Amelkina-Vera, Nadia Borislova, Nelly Decamp, Veronique Gillet, Annette Kruisbrink, Fabienne Magnant, and Gloria Villanueva.
The majority of guitar repertoire seems to have been composed by guitarists. All of the “big names” in the guitar’s history, especially in the 19th century, were guitarists, or at least played the guitar: Sor, Aguado, Coste, Legnani, Giuliani, Regondi, Tarrega, Barrios, Takemitsu, Brindle, Brouwer, Rak, Dyens, Bogdanovic, etcetera. Although a few non guitarists have gifted significant contributions to the guitar’s repertoire (Britten, Walton, Rodrigo, and Tippett, to name a few), none of these composers have been quite as prolific in their output as the guitarist-composers. I will talk more about the differences between guitarist composers and composers who do not play the guitar in the fourth part of this series.
Maria Luisa Anido
Maria Luisa Anido (1907-1996) was a classical guitarist from Argentina. As far as I can see, her complete compositions were recorded by Maria Isabel Siewers on her CD, A Mimita (Mimita being Maria Luisa Anido’s nickname). Here is a video of Maria Luisa Anido performing her composition Aire Norteño in Moscow.
I had a hard time finding a reliable English source for information on Anido’s life, but I did come across a 2015 Facebook post from guitarist Candice Mowbray, which includes a short biography of this “Lady of the Guitar.” And, of course, there is always Wikipedia, which supplied me with what I am hoping is a complete list of her compositions. The only publication of her work that I can find is in Annette Kruisbrink’s Guitar Music by Women Composers that I keep mentioning in these posts. Kruisbrink included Anido’s short piece Nana in this collection. Please let me know in the comments below if you come across any of her other compositions.
Eva Beneke is a German classical guitarist based in Minnesota where she teaches at the McNally Smith College of Music. I first met Eva at the Hamilton Guitar festival a few years ago. I had a great lesson with her on Giuliani’s Rossiniana No 1 that I was playing at the time. She has released one lovely solo guitar album, Coming Home, that features music by Bach, Domeniconi, and herself. One of the pieces on that album, “Stormy Crossing,” can by heard on her YouTube channel here. Her compositions, as well as a few other publications, can be purchased from her website here.
Liona Boyd, “The first lady of the classical guitar,” is perhaps the most well known female classical guitar performer. With her long and varied career, Liona Boyd managed to become more than just “guitar famous” by winning 5 Juno awards for Instrumental Artist of the Year, as well as several other awards. Her compositions and arrangements are for sale through her website here. Several of these pieces are copies of her own handwriting.
Lynn Harting-Ware is a Canadian composer and guitarist. Her biography can be found on the website for the music school that she runs with her partner Peter Ware in Markham, Ontario. She has recorded her pieces, mixed with other contemporary and older works on her 5 CDs (Angelica (1997), Americas (2000), Forest Scenes (1995), Impossible Dream (1995), and Many Moods of the Guitar (1997)). I believe that the CDs and the sheet music for her pieces (“Fantasy-Ricercare and Dance” and “Reverie and March”) can be ordered through Acoma-Nambe Editions. Some excerpts of her playing can also be found on this website, although I was unable to source any complete or partial recording of her compositions online. As I mentioned before, she has recorded her compositions on various CDs, and these are available through Amazon.com.
Dale Kavanagh is a Canadian guitarist, composer, and professor who lives and works in Germany. Dale has included her own compositions on two of her four solo albums as well as two of the ten albums that she has released with her partner, Thomas Kirchhoff, as the Amadeus Duo. All of these CDs, with links of where to find them and samples of the recordings, can be found here. Her compositions are published with Chanterelle and Hubertus Nogatz.
Dale Kavanagh’s compositions are easily accessible and explore the rich sonorities of the guitar. Her pieces seem to be very much in tune with her style as a performer, as she seems to revel in powerful playing, sweeping gestures, and improvisatory forms (i.e., Domeniconi’s Koyumbaba). Here is a recording of Dale Kavanagh playing her own piece, “Briny Ocean.” I have the sheet music for this sitting in my collection waiting to be played at some point.
German guitarist Irina Kircher is one half of duo Montes-Kircher. I stumbled across one of her pieces, “Twilight,” while at the Nürtingen guitar festival. At the time, I did not know who she was. The week following, I was very impressed when I saw the duo in concert at the Iserlohn guitar festival, and watched Irina teach several masterclasses. “Twilight” is based on the teen novel saga by the same name and is published by Chanterelle. Here is a video of Irina performing the first movement of her composition.
Maria Linnemann is a Dutch-born composer and guitarist who grew up in England and now resides in Germany. Ms. Linnemann has composed over 500 pieces for the guitar and piano. She has released three albums of her compositions, samples of which are available on her website (one recent CD is available on iTunes). Her compositions are published and available through Haus der Musik Trekel, Ricordi, and Burger & Müller.
Luise Walker (1910-1998) was an Austrian classical guitarist. Like Maria Luisa Anido, Luise Walker studied with guitarist Miguel Llobet. Here is a recording from 1953 of Luise Walker playing a concerto by Santorsola. A Vinyl record of her playing Schubert, Weber, and Haydn is available through Amazon.ca, and various other recording seem to be available from Amazon.com.
I came across a book of five easy pieces by Luise Walker. I also came across some of her music on the di-arezzo website here. Her most popular piece of music seems to be the beautiful “Kleine Romanze” – in fact, I had a hard time finding anything other than this piece on YouTube!
As always, thank you for making it through to the end of another blog post! I hope that you are enjoying this series of posts on female composers for the guitar. I am certainly enjoying the process as I get to discover all sorts of new music and new people in the process! I will be writing the fourth instalment of this list for next Thursday focusing on non-guitarist composers who may have only written one or two pieces for the guitar.