The Bible and Music Written by Women

The Bible and Music Written by Women December 9, 2016

As a recent New York Times article highlighted, female composers have historically been neglected. I have no intention of allowing that to be the case in my course on the Bible and music. And so this post is not only intended to share some examples of settings of Biblical texts by women (and to be clear, it will not in any sense try to include every composition or composer I know of), but also to invite readers to share pieces that they know of and consider significant, to make sure I don’t miss them. Hildegard of Bingen must of course feature prominently. But there are many others, some famous, some less so. And so here’s a selection:

Fanny Mendelssohn’s “Oratorium nach den Bildern der Bibel”:

Lili Boulanger’s settings of Psalms, such as this one:

Sofia Gubaidulina’s “The Last Seven Words”:

Parableby Judith Lang Zaimont:

Anne Dudley’s “The Testimony of John”:

Roxanna Panufnik’s “Love Endureth”:

Roberta Bitgood’s works, such as “The Greatest of These is Love”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEXTOLqULjk

Elisabeth Lutyen’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis:

There are others which I simply did not find on YouTube to include here but would have liked to, including works by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Kaija Saariaho, Violet Archer, Louise Talma, Emma Lou Diemer, Marion Dix Sullivan, Daria Semegen, Thérèse Brenet, Yardena Alotin, and others. And of course, the course is not limited to “classical” music. Here’s “Psalm 69” by Louise Calixte:

What others would you include?


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  • TrevorN

    I don’t think I’ve heard a piece by Saariaho that wasn’t beautiful.