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The Changing Role of Women in Music during the Romantic Period (Essay Sample)


The Changing Role of Women in Music during the Romantic Period

The Changing Role of Women in Music during the Romantic Period
The romantic period was a unique moment in the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth century when Europe and the United States were experiencing revolution. Various happenings like wars prompted people to become critical of their normal lives, death, music, and art. At the same time, people began to challenge the established order of things. For example, romanticism began to agitate for women empowerment. Until this period, women were largely discriminated and regarded as lesser beings whose role was restricted to marriage and household duties. Women writers like Mary Wollstonecraft began to challenge this notion in her essay, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Published in 1792 (Smith, 620-640).
Apart from liberalization, music writers and other artists began to involve nature and cultures in their works. This marked a major shift in the representation of music, giving emphasis on romance and exoticism. All in all, women began to be involved more and more in music during the romantic period as perceptions began to change about the role of women in the society. This essay discusses the changing roles of women across the world during the romantic period.
The Body
Before the romantic era, women were restricted to household duties. However, the agitation by feminists around this period for an equal society prompted a major change. In music, women were not allowed to be composers or writers because they were regarded as possessing a weaker mental prowess than their male counterparts. As the romantic period wore on, more and more women began to take up composing as their roles in music developement. Others ventured into teaching music, singing and performing because the environment was friendlier than previous years. Women champions like Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel combined performing, playing the piano and composing music to become one of the pioneers to mark the changing roles of women in music (Adams, 300-305).
The contribution of women to music had been ignored before the romantic period. Only songs and other music works undertaken by men were documented by historians. This is because historians feared that empowering women through publicizing their works would destabilize marriages. Before this period, women were only recognized by their looks and success in marriages. With the increasing voices by feminists, researchers and historians began to recognize the contribution of women to music. As a result of this, women contributions like Nadezhda von Meck who financially supported Tchaikovsky to compose and record his music became documented (Adams, 200-276). Other women who organized musical salons, concerts and performances began to be recognized as instrumental agents of music development.
As the whole world experienced experimentation and revolution, women status in music was also getting elevated. Before the romantic period, women were only included in less demanding roles like painting and dancing. There were very few women leading the orchestra. The romantic period brought more freedom allowing women to take more responsibilities in music. This meant that they could afford to acquire sophisticated music instruments to decorate their performances. Generally, women involvement in the music industry enabled them to earn a living. This brought down their overdependence on men which also served to invoke respect from the society that had been discriminating for so long.
Music schools known as conservatories began to admit women. Additionally, they were encouraged to engage in all manner of roles in the music industry ranging from dancing to composing. This was a big change as education was considered a threat to marriages before the romantic perio...
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