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As Heard on NPR's Weekend Edition
Absorbing ... [Beer] writes with rich detail and sympathetic insight about [these women's] ambitious, adventurous battles to overcome barriers to creativity." Publishers Weekly
"Savvy, sympathetic ... essential and insightful study of a woman’s unsung place in the closed world of classical music." The Wall Street Journal
SOUNDS AND SWEET AIRS reveals the hidden stories of eight remarkable composers, taking the reader on a journey from seventeenth-century Medici Florence to London in the Blitz.
Exploring not just the lives and works of eight exceptional artists, historian Anna Beer also asks tough questions about the silencing of their legacy, which continues to this day. Why do we still not hear masterpieces such as Hensel’s piano work "The Year," Caccini’s arias and Boulanger’s setting of Psalm 130?
A long-overdue celebration of neglected virtuosos, SOUNDS AND SWEET AIRS presents a complex and inspirational picture of artistic endeavour and achievement that deserves to be part of our cultural heritage.
The featured composers are Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Marianna Martines, Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn), Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger and Elizabeth Maconchy.
Anna Beer is an early-modern specialist with a growing interest in the intersection between music and literature in this period. As a biographer, she has produced volumes on Milton and Lady Bess Raleigh. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford.