Cecile Chaminade

Cecile Chaminade (1857 – 1994) was a French composer and pianist who was the first female composer to be award the Legion d’Honneur in 1913. I’d never heard of her till quit recently. The first time I heard ‘Automne’ I didn’t actually know it was written by a female composer and to be honest I wasn’t really thinking about who wrote it as I was so fixated on the piece. This is what I think makes this piece even more intriguing for me.

Chaminade was an amazing pianist who toured France several times. She was admired a lot in the states and around Paris and Britten where in London she recorded 6 of her compositions for Gramophone. She also wrote the Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 which was performed for the 1902 Paris Conservatoire Concours.

The French composer Ambroise Thomas once said “This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.”. During her lifetime she had written over 400 works including piano concertos, Flute concertino’s, opera’s, orchestral ensembles and songs but after World War 1 her concert career came to an end with most of her work going into obscurity. Her music represented a time that had passed.

I think that Cecile Chaminade is an important music figure that should be talked about more often. Studying A-level and now currently studying a music degree I have never heard of most or if any non current female composers. This makes me feel quite guilty and also a bit sad.

This is her ‘Automne’ which is a really beautiful composition written for piano.


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