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Curtis Institute of Music

John de Lancie Library

Rock Online Catalog

Women in Music: Women Composers

Featured composer

Tania León (1943-)

  • Curtis composer in residence for 2021-2022
  • 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

More 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

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


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

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

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