Guest lecturer explores historical significance of female composers

Harbach Recital
Elizabeth Vaughn, senior music education major, sings “Wind” by Barbara Harbach in Hartley Hall, Sep. 29, 2014. | Photo by Amanda Rohde, staff photographer
Barbara Harbach, a music professor at the University of Missouri- St. Louis, held two recitals and a lecture at Union this week.

Harbach began her visit with a guest composition recital showcasing Union music faculty and students performing her work.

“I thought the composition recital was really great,” said Matt Norville, a sophomore music major. “It was really cool to see some of our students and professors perform Dr. Harbach’s songs.”

Harbach’s Tuesday lecture was titled “1200 Years of Women Composers.” Harbach discussed the enormous difference in the equality of male and female composers throughout history, and highlighted the works of 10 female composers, including herself.

“The most popular song in the world was written by Patty and Mildred Hill,” said Harbach. “The one song that gets sung more times around the world than any other song, ‘Happy Birthday to You,’ was written by two women.”

Harbach focused on the importance of women in music, despite the inequality women have had in composition historically. From Kassia, a 9th century Byzantine composer who evaded the romantic pursuits of King Theophilos in order to pursue her music, to Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, who was one of the first published women composers, self-reliant female composers were prominent throughout Harbach’s lecture.

“Some of these women changed the course of history, and are truly inspirations to the women composers to come after them,” said Harbach. “They all overcame great hardships and had to be very brave to end up where they did.”

Harbach concluded her time at Union with an organ recital in the Savage Chapel on Tuesday evening. Harbach’s recital featured historical organ composers from the 16th-19th centuries, hymn based pieces, spirituals, and a suite for the organ based on the songs and struggles of the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and ‘60’s titled “We Shall Overcome.”

Barbara Harbach is not only a professor at the University of Missouri- St. Louis, but a composer with a large catalog of works ranging from symphonies, operas, string orchestra pieces, musicals, film scores and ballets. Harbach has also toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian Siberia.

Image courtesy of Amanda Rohde|Cardinal & Cream
About Jake Wynn 34 Articles
Jake Wynn is a Public Relations major in the Union University class of 2015, and the Cardinal & Cream's Arts and Entertainment editor. Jake loves music, film, and sports.