Women in Music | Female Violinists | Late Romantic | Classical
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, women throughout Europe and the US were entering the music profession as instrumentalists, singers, teachers, journalists, musicologists, administrators and composers of all genres of music, from song to symphony. One of the most significant advances was the appearance of the female violinist. There had been isolated instances of successful female violin virtuosos for centuries but in general the violin was deemed to be an unfeminine instrument. The pioneer violinist who made the instrument respectable in Europe was the Czech-born Wilhelmine Norman-Neruda (1839–1911), Lady Hallé after her second marriage. The French-born violinist Camilla Urso (1842–1902) had the same effect in the US. By the 1880s, both amateur and professional women were taking up the instrument in large numbers and wanting to play with others in orchestras.
The first professional all-woman orchestra since the cori of the Venetian ospedali was the internationally famous Viennese Ladies’ Orchestra, founded in the 1860s. Soon numerous women’s orchestras and bands were to be found throughout Europe and the US. Amateur groups played to raise money for charity; the inaugural concert of Lady Radnor’s String Band, for example, raised £1,000 towards the foundation of London’s Royal College of Music.
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