Women in Music | Musical Education | Early Romantic | Classical
During the nineteenth century, women amateurs of the middle and upper classes continued to be taught music privately, often receiving an extremely thorough musical education from the leading musicians of the day. Professional women musicians, like their eighteenth-century predecessors, often came from musical families and were traditionally taught by their parents. Although many learned the art of musical performance in the privacy of their own homes, some attended small private music schools, of which there were many in Europe. These establishments were often run by women themselves. From the early nineteenth century there was also the option to study at the conservatories that were being founded throughout Europe. Female students were admitted to most of these establishments from the start, although lessons were usually segregated and certain options (such as the study of counterpoint or the violin) were not available to women – especially in continental Europe – until later in the century.
When the Royal Academy of Music in London opened in 1823 it had 40 female and 40 male students. The girls were taught harmony and counterpoint, piano, singing, harp, Italian, dancing and ‘writing music’. The boys were taught the same subjects with the exclusion of dancing and the addition of the violin, cello and oboe. Female students soon outnumbered male and continued to do so throughout the century. In contrast, at the Leipzig Conservatory (founded in 1843) male students continued to outnumber the female members of the school.
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