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Curtis Institute of Music

John de Lancie Library

Rock Online Catalog

Women in Music: Women Composers


Celebrate Women's History Month (and beyond) at Curtis Library

with these women in music!

Featured composer

Augusta Read Thomas (1964-)

Don't miss the Portrait of Augusta Read Thomas event at Curtis on March 23, 2019!
  • Born in New York
  • Studied with Oliver Knussen, Jacob Druckman, Alan Stout and Bill Karlins
  • Mead Composer in Residence with the Chicago Symphony (under Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez)
  • Grammy winner, Pulitzer Prize finalist

Other Women Composers

Click on each name to search the Curtis Library catalog for recordings and scores by these women composers.

Florence Price (1887-1953)

  • Born in Little Rock, AR
  • Studied with George Chadwick, Arthur Olaf Andersen, Carl Busch, and others
  • First African-American woman to be recognized as a composer and have compositions played by a major orchestra
  • Colleague of Margaret Bonds, Langston Hughes, and Marian Anderson

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-1953)

  • Born in East Liverpool, OH; studied with Adolf Weidig and Djane Lavoie Herz in Chicago
  • Colleague of Henry Cowell, Marion Bauer, Carl Sandburg; married musicologist Charles Seeger
  • First woman composer to receive Guggenheim fellowship
  • Worked with John and Alan Lomax to preserve and teach American folk songs

Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016)

  • Born in Houston, TX; studied with Willard A. Palmer and Robert Erickson
  • Early member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center
  • Colleague of Terry Riley, Morton Subotnick, and John Cage
  • Founded the Deep Listening Institute
  • Used improvisation, electronics, and extended techniques in compositions and performances

Tania León (1943-)

  • Born in Havana, Cuba
  • Studied at the National Conservatory in Cuba and New York University
  • Founding member of Arthur Mitchell's Dance Theater of Harlem
  • Composed orchestral works, chamber music, and pieces for indigenous percussionists and orchestra
  • Collaborated with poets like John Ashberry, Rita Dove, Jamaica Kincaid, and Margaret Atwood


Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)

Libby Larsen (1950-)

Judith Lang Zaimont (1945-)

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847)

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

Missy Mazzoli (1980-)

A Selection of Women Composers at Curtis

Chen Yi (1953-)

  • Born and raised in Guangzhou, China
  • Studied with Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky
  • Professor of composition at University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • 2017-2018 Composer in Residence at Curtis

Scores in the Curtis catalog

Recordings in the Curtis catalog

Jennifer Higdon (1962-)

  • Born in Brooklyn, raised in the U.S. South
  • Studied with David Loeb and George Crumb
  • Curtis alum and current Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at Curtis
  • 2-time Grammy winner and Pulitzer Prize winner

Scores in the Curtis catalog

Recordings in music at Curtis