Elizabeth de Brito

Journalist, researcher and musicologist. Previously wrote regular feature articles on female classical composers for Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy. Other bylines include features for BBC Music Magazine, Clarinet & Sax Magazine, I Care If You Listen, Classical Music UK and Naxos. 

Composer of the Month – Modesta Bor (1926-1998)

After a paralysing illness derailed a bright career as a concert pianist, Modesta Bor found passion and purpose as a composer, emerging as one of the most significant musical figures in 20th century Venezuela. Not just through her glittering compositional career but also through her work as an educator, Modesta Bor influenced generations of Venezuelan composers and musicians. Let me shine a light on this important woman and some of her greatest orchestral music.

Hidden Herstory – Dmitri Shostakovich and his female contemporaries

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) left a deep impression on 20th century classical music, however many great women contributed to the Russian and international music scene. Here we shine a light on his female contemporaries, from fellow students at Leningrad Conservatory, friends from Moscow Conservatory, peers during his career and finally the next generation who influenced his own work.

Year-End Reflections from Elizabeth de Brito

Phew, what a year it’s been! This time last year COVID still hung firmly over our festivities but this year the party is back on! I think it’s fair to say we’ve all enjoyed returning to some semblance of normality, with live music gradually returning for good across the world and festivals, concerts, and gigs mostly going ahead as planned. As 2022 draws to a close, I look back on the last twelve months in classical music – the challenges, triumphs, sorrows, and achievements. This year saw many

Hidden Herstory – Brahms and his female contemporaries | Women's Philharmonic Advocacy

Two Germans, a Brit and a Swede walk into a Leipzig salon – sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn’t it? In this month’s Hidden Herstory article we explore the work of four composers –Amanda Maier, Ethel Smyth, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, whose lives intersected in late 19th century Leipzig. All four knew each other, collaborated on performances, influenced great work and enjoyed long friendships.

Elizabeth Recommends: Symphonic Poems

This month on Elizabeth Recommends I am focusing on Tone Poems, introducing seven of the most essential symphonic poems from the past two centuries and around the world. Each one depicts an extraordinary story, some inspired by specific poetry, some taking inspiration from folklore and others creating their own narrative. These represent some of the most beautiful program music in existence and I hope we can encourage you to listen –and program — more of these amazing works.

Hidden Herstory: An 18th-Century Royal Musical Dynasty

Have you heard of this amazing classical-era royal musical dynasty from Prussia? Two generations of remarkable royals who, through their leadership and musical talent, shaped much of 18th-century German artistic culture and strongly influenced the development of classical music, composers themselves and also inspiring some of the finest works of the era. Allow me to introduce you to these four extraordinary women, a single family of rulers and composers.

Composer of the Month: Chiquinha Gonzaga

Editor’s Note: While our focus at WPA is on women in classical music, we know the boundaries of the term “classical” have always been flexible and porous, from the earliest music of the Western church appropriating popular melodies, to Lizzo playing a flute that belonged to the fourth US President. Our featured composer excelled in operetta, a genre that lives on the border of classical and popular, one whose name seems to mean “opera, but more accessible.” Given that Chiquinha Gonzaga’s work re

Elizabeth recommends: Essential Orchestral Music by Women

In this brand-new series, we will be introducing some of the essential orchestral music by women. We offer starting points for those unfamiliar with the vast body of work by women. This is not an exhaustive list, there are many more brilliant pieces to recommend, however these represent a solid base on which to build your new repertoire. In each article we’ll focus on a particular type of orchestral music along with seven works for you to enjoy. Today we begin with symphonies — we hope you enjoy

Hidden Herstory – Saint-Saëns and his female contemporaries

Camille Saint-Saëns may enjoy a revered status amongst French classical composers, partly due to his various popular works and for his work in founding the Société Nationale de Musique (SNM). But are you familiar with the numerous important women that worked in his circle? Saint-Saëns sustained close friendships with several important female composers in the 19th century. These women constituted a vital part of the Parisian scene, influencing French music as we know it and playing a significant

Composer of the Month: Young-ja Lee

Young-ja Lee’s impact upon Korean classical music is enormous, with a life full of firsts: the first female composer of Western classical music in Korea; the first female composer to study abroad; one of the first (if not the first) female composition professors in the country and the co-founder of the Korean Society of Women Composers. As a composer, teacher and advocate she has played a vital role in shaping the classical music scene in Korea.

Hidden Herstory – Benjamin Britten and his Female Contemporaries

Benjamin Britten may be a great composer, widely considered the fourth ‘B’ after Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But are you aware of these four extraordinary British composers with whom he associated? Dame Elizabeth Maconchy, Grace Williams, Imogen Holst CBE and Elisabeth Lutyens CBE, were all born within fourteen months of one another, in 1906-7, several years before Britten‘s birth in 1913. All four met during their time studying at London’s Royal College of Music (Holst, Maconchy and Williams in

Hidden Herstory: Mozart and his female contemporaries

Hidden Herstory in the time of Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is (for many) synonymous with classical music, known throughout the world as one of the greatest male classical composers of all time. However, how many of us know that Mozart spent a lot of his life surrounded by extraordinary female composers? These women, in addition to composing their own spectacular music, influenced Mozart’s life and work, in ways playing a significant – and still largely unrecognized — role in the development
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