Classical Music's Unsung Heroines

Episodes

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01Nadezhda Von Meck20150302

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of essays celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Nadezhda von Meck was 46 and had recently lost her husband when she first wrote to Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, who was in his mid-thirties, asking the rising star for some pieces to be played at her country house. Money followed in a registered envelope - an amount so big that it slightly embarrassed - but also dazzled - him. And that payment was only the start. For the 13 years that followed, Madame von Meck kept the composer in grand style.

But the money came, and kept coming, on one condition: that the composer and his benefactor should never meet.

Author and journalist Vanora Bennett, the eldest daughter of the flute player William Bennett and the cellist Rhuna Martin, tells the fascinating story of one woman's single-minded dedication to a cause she passionately believed in.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

01Nadezhda Von Meck20150302

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of essays celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Nadezhda von Meck was 46 and had recently lost her husband when she first wrote to Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, who was in his mid-thirties, asking the rising star for some pieces to be played at her country house. Money followed in a registered envelope - an amount so big that it slightly embarrassed - but also dazzled - him. And that payment was only the start. For the 13 years that followed, Madame von Meck kept the composer in grand style.

But the money came, and kept coming, on one condition: that the composer and his benefactor should never meet.

Author and journalist Vanora Bennett, the eldest daughter of the flute player William Bennett and the cellist Rhuna Martin, tells the fascinating story of one woman's single-minded dedication to a cause she passionately believed in.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

02Lady Maud Warrender20150303

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of essays celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Lady Maud Warrender was a respected performer, and one of the most influential patrons of music in the early twentieth century, all while living with her lesbian lover, the opera singer Marcia Van Dresser. Her life, lived very much in the public gaze, but with whole areas that were kept so discreetly private that it is hard to find any concrete information, was an example of a tightrope successfully and deftly trodden - a perilous path between respectability and scandal.

Dr Kate Kennedy tells the story of this extraordinary woman who wielded more power in the musical world than many male professional concert promoters put together.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

02Lady Maud Warrender20150303

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of essays celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Lady Maud Warrender was a respected performer, and one of the most influential patrons of music in the early twentieth century, all while living with her lesbian lover, the opera singer Marcia Van Dresser. Her life, lived very much in the public gaze, but with whole areas that were kept so discreetly private that it is hard to find any concrete information, was an example of a tightrope successfully and deftly trodden - a perilous path between respectability and scandal.

Dr Kate Kennedy tells the story of this extraordinary woman who wielded more power in the musical world than many male professional concert promoters put together.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

03Leopoldine Wittgenstein20150304

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of essays celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Leopoldine Wittgenstein is someone it's easy to overlook. Neurotic and shy, she stands in the shadow not just of her extraordinarily talented children, who include that giant of twentieth century philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, but also of her overwhelming and dominant husband, Karl, who built himself up to become one of the wealthiest and most successful industrialists of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire. But Leopoldine, or Poldy, as she was known in the family, was an exceptionally gifted pianist. And she presided over one of the most important and glittering musical salons in fin de siècle Vienna, attended not just by Hanslick, but by Brahms, Mahler and Richard Strauss.

Bethany Bell, the BBC's Vienna Correspondent, takes to the streets of the modern city on the trail of this most misunderstood woman.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

03Leopoldine Wittgenstein20150304

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of essays celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Leopoldine Wittgenstein is someone it's easy to overlook. Neurotic and shy, she stands in the shadow not just of her extraordinarily talented children, who include that giant of twentieth century philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, but also of her overwhelming and dominant husband, Karl, who built himself up to become one of the wealthiest and most successful industrialists of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire. But Leopoldine, or Poldy, as she was known in the family, was an exceptionally gifted pianist. And she presided over one of the most important and glittering musical salons in fin de siècle Vienna, attended not just by Hanslick, but by Brahms, Mahler and Richard Strauss.

Bethany Bell, the BBC's Vienna Correspondent, takes to the streets of the modern city on the trail of this most misunderstood woman.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

04Mary Gladstone20150305

04Mary Gladstone20150305

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of The Essay celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

We tend to remember William Ewart Gladstone as a reformer who wanted to pacify Ireland. We know that Queen Victoria preferred Disraeli's flattery to Gladstone's earnest lectures. And we've heard that this long-serving Prime Minister relaxed by cutting down trees on the Hawarden estate. What we don't imagine about this Grand Old Man is his sensuality. In fact, W.E. Gladstone was passionately musical and he owed much of the pleasure he gained from exploring his musical tastes, as well as the moral purpose he derived from it, to the influence of his daughter Mary.

As Dr Phyllis Weliver explains, Mary was a pioneering Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, one who advised on ecclesiastical appointments with a strong bias towards those who shared her sense of the moral purpose of music. She was also a subtle master of 'soft diplomacy' in the way she brought music making to Downing Street and the heart of her father's government.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

04Mary Gladstone20150305

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of The Essay celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

We tend to remember William Ewart Gladstone as a reformer who wanted to pacify Ireland. We know that Queen Victoria preferred Disraeli's flattery to Gladstone's earnest lectures. And we've heard that this long-serving Prime Minister relaxed by cutting down trees on the Hawarden estate. What we don't imagine about this Grand Old Man is his sensuality. In fact, W.E. Gladstone was passionately musical and he owed much of the pleasure he gained from exploring his musical tastes, as well as the moral purpose he derived from it, to the influence of his daughter Mary.

As Dr Phyllis Weliver explains, Mary was a pioneering Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, one who advised on ecclesiastical appointments with a strong bias towards those who shared her sense of the moral purpose of music. She was also a subtle master of 'soft diplomacy' in the way she brought music making to Downing Street and the heart of her father's government.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

05Betty Freeman20150306

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of The Essay celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Betty Freeman was possibly the most influential patron of twentieth century classical music. From 1964 onwards, she gave a total of 413 grants and commissions for living expenses, compositions, recordings, performances and librettos to 81 artists. These include John Cage, Steve Reich, Robert Wilson and Peter Sellars and also younger composers such as Olga Neuwirth and Hans Peter Kyburz.

An editor of BBC Music Magazine, Helen Wallace looks for the woman behind the list of names and discovers what drove her to play so formative a role in the lives of these great musicians.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.

05Betty Freeman20150306

In the week leading up to our celebration of International Women's Day, a series of The Essay celebrating five women who have been unacknowledged movers and shakers in the world of classical music down the ages. Each of these women overcame societal expectations or personal adversity to have real influence on the music of their day, and subsequently ours.

Betty Freeman was possibly the most influential patron of twentieth century classical music. From 1964 onwards, she gave a total of 413 grants and commissions for living expenses, compositions, recordings, performances and librettos to 81 artists. These include John Cage, Steve Reich, Robert Wilson and Peter Sellars and also younger composers such as Olga Neuwirth and Hans Peter Kyburz.

An editor of BBC Music Magazine, Helen Wallace looks for the woman behind the list of names and discovers what drove her to play so formative a role in the lives of these great musicians.

Produced by Simon Richardson

To find out more about Radio 3's International Women's Day programming follow @BBCRadio3 and the hashtag #womensday.