I really enjoyed writing about this fascinating scholar, pianist, teacher and composer – who successfully fought for equal pay while the lone female instructor at the Paris Conservatory in the mid-ninteenth century.  The Naxos label recently released an album featuring her brilliant symphonies.

From my article:
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In the 1847 Revue et Gazette Musicale, a weekly French publication dedicated to classical music, a reviewer noted that that composer Louise Farrenc’s symphonies embodied “the highest symphonic talent among woman”, adding that Farrenc was “not only the first of her sex to approach the genre but one whose symphonies a great many male composers would be proud to have written.” In addition to writing three symphonies and an impressive catalogue of chamber music and solo pieces, Farrenc was a virtuoso pianist, pioneering scholar and the only female tenured professor in the 19th century at the Paris Conservatory (although she was only permitted to teach female students).

According to one recent study, the gender pay gap might not disappear until 2070, but even back in the mid 19th century, Farrenc wasn’t willing to accept the status quo. After the success of her elegant ‘Nonet’ for wind and strings, whose premiere in 1850 featured the star violinist Joseph Joachim, she demanded the same salary as her male counterparts. The conservatory’s director was so impressed with her work that he immediately agreed to raise her pay.

Read the full article and listen to her music on Naxos’s Explore Classical Music site: