There is no particular reason I’m including this on the blog except for the fact that I consider myself more a music writer than musician, and I rarely come across any discussion of female music writers from around the turn of the century. It is important to keep in mind that many of our primary sources about women musicians were actually written by men. Even nowadays, it seems as if the majority of the best arts journalists are men…or is this just coincidence, given the fact the sample size of best arts journalists is so pathetically small? Who are some of your favorite female writers on the arts – whether of the past or present?
This is from the 1904 book Press Work for Women by Frances H. Low.
Musical and Art Criticism.
This branch of journalism is, for the most part, even in the sixpenny women’s papers, for some extraordinary reason, almost wholly in the hands of men, and offers an interesting though limited field for a cultivated writer’s taste, imagination, and knowledge. Dramatic criticism involves attendance at first nights, and also some of the disagreeable features inseparable, apparently, from the stage. But as an enormous number of concerts take place in the afternoon, and as nearly all art shows can be visited in the daytime, it seems strange that so small a number of women are employed as art and musical critics. A large number of lady journalists attend private views and concerts, and describe the people and the frocks, and everything but the artistic productions; but their functions are not those of the trained critic. Seeing what a number of cultivated women musicians there are, this want of enterprise is striking; and I cannot help thinking that students who have a thorough knowledge of the theory of music, might do worse than qualify themselves as critics. The best way to bring herself under the notice of editors would be for the young critic to write a short magazine article dealing with some aspect of the musical art in an original and individual way; and with this object, it would be best to get her views printed in a journal that is not an exclusively musical organ.