New research released today by the Royal Albert Hall has revealed that Brits are nearly twice as likely to recognise a famous male classical composer, compared to their female counterparts.
The study shows that the top 10 classical composers most recognised by Brits are all male, with Mozart (recognised by 70 per cent), Beethoven (70 per cent) and Bach (60 per cent), topping the list.
In comparison, women composers had significantly lower recognition, with Fanny Mendelsshon, Clara Schumann and Hildegard von Bingen known to just 30 per cent, 17 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, despite composing some of the most critically-acclaimed pieces of their time.
The relative lack of awareness around Fanny Mendelsshon’s work may be explained by the face that much of her music was published under her more famous brother Felix’s name[i], demonstrating just one way in which many female talents have been largely written out of history.
Commenting on the research, Lucy Noble, Artistic and Commercial Director at the Royal Albert Hall, said: “Women have long struggled to be properly recognised for their incredible contribution to music. These figures are illustrative of the challenges faced by female musicians, composers and technicians to ensure they are judged on their work and not on their gender”.
She continues: “History has left us a legacy of great classical composers; Mozart, Bach and Schubert to name a few. But we must make sure that young people are exposed to not just these white, male titans, but women and those from minority backgrounds are recognised too”.
“The challenge doesn’t just stop with redressing history. I am so proud that the Royal Albert Hall continues to be a venue that nurtures, showcases and champions incredible female talent today. There is no better example than our upcoming Love Classical series which will see performances from some of classical music’s leading female performers”.
Love Classical is the Hall’s upcoming season of shows celebrating some of the most distinctive and original voices in classical music today. Two of the programme’s headline events feature prominent women from the world of classical music.
Rising Stars of Classical sees performances from soprano Lauren Fagan and saxophonist Jess Gillam, while Chi-chi Nwanoku’s Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first BME orchestra, will play alongside legendary Detroit DJ Carl Craig.
The Hall also offers opportunities off the stage for young women through its apprenticeships programme and Young Producers initiative. The latter offers a group of 18 to 25 year olds the opportunity to produce their own event at the Hall.
The Royal Albert Hall’s Education & Outreach programme reached more than 215,000 participants last year, working with schools, young people and the community, as well as other charities such as Music for Youth.