This is both an interesting and infuriating book. I did not find it
a book that I could not put down as the great Christa Ludwig states.
Betsy Jolas must surely be way over the top when she says that
this book changed her life. Gerard Conde in Le Monde speaks
of Fanny as an unjustly neglected composer and inherent in that statement
is the idea that she is a good composer at least.
This sort of praise is counterproductive for it seeks
to make up oneís mind and this praise can therefore do more harm than
The musical examples quoted in the book show a very
basic ability to compose relying on formulae. Anyone with a little music
knowledge can do this. It is not even as good as first year Music College
composition. And listening to the recordings of her music it may be
charming but has nothing new to say Even if you have not heard the music
before you are sure that you have.
The book also reeks of feminist sexism, one of the
most insidious traits of the last 30 years or so. The facts are that
very few women wanted to be composers not that they were kept down.
It is the same situation with the suffragette movement in Britain a
hundred years ago. Hitherto women did not want to vote or to be in politics
and therefore to say that women were kept down is another sexist remark
that shows that unacceptable feminist attitude that women are superior.
They are not. They are better than men in some things, thatís for sure,
but not in being composers! The implication is that Fanny would have
been a star but for men! What absolute nonsense! Her music is not great.
And what difference does it make what she wore to a
concert? What has that to do with her alleged skills as a musician?
Are we now expected to read that when Sir Adrian Boult
conducted the premiere of Tippett's Second Symphony he wore odd socks?
What value is that?
This book is full of such trivia.
One also detects that the writer is saying that Fanny
was a better composer than her brother Felix and, in effect, charges
him with being a male chauvinist pig as he refused to publish any of
The book does not contain a complete list of works
but there may be legitimate reasons for this. We do have a detailed
family tree and endless detail some of which is nothing more than gossip.
But then there are people who like this Coronation Street style. Personally,
The book also highlights the question as to how many
great women composers have we? How many could stand with Beethoven or
Brahms? I would love someone to tell me
The book is handsomely produced with fine pictures.
Linda Karen Dowson