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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Monday, March 1

A fanfare for Women's History Month

Synopsis

For most of the 20th century, women's history was almost totally ignored in American schools. To address this situation, an Education Task Force in Sonoma County, California, initiated a "Women's History" celebration in March of 1978. What began as an annual “Women’s History Week” grew over the years into a national celebration, and in 1987, Congress declared the whole of March to be Women's History Month.

Appropriately enough, 1987 also saw the premiere performance of Joan Tower’s “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” — music written for the same instrumentation as Aaron Copland’s famous “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

Originally, Tower chose to let the title of her “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman” serve as a generic, built-in dedication to all the unsung heroes of women’s struggles past and present. But eventually, Tower added a specific dedication to the conductor Marin Alsop, a champion of new music.

“I don’t think you can play a piece of music and say whether it’s written by a man or a woman,” says Tower. “I think music is genderless.”

But festivals and celebrations of women in music remain important, in Tower’s view, in helping to get the word out about their accomplishments.

Music Played in Today's Program

Joan Tower (b.1938) Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1 Colorado Symphony; Marin Alsop, cond. Koch International 7469

Additional Information

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