Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Seven LGBTQ2+ Composers Who Modified Western Classical Music


L-R: Jean-Baptiste Lully by Chabert (Public domain); Pyotr ILyich Tchaikovsky (A glass negative, public domain); Camille Saint-Saens b Meurisse 1921 (Public domain)
L-R: Jean-Baptiste Lully by Chabert (Public area); Pyotr ILyich Tchaikovsky (A glass destructive, public area); Camille Saint-Saens b Meurisse 1921 (Public area)

A few of the most recognizable and beloved music in Western tradition was created by queer composers — it’s a easy assertion of fact. LGBTQ2+ composers have all the time been a part of the classical music world, whether or not acknowledged or not. For a lot of in previous centuries, it meant main a covert double life.

Right here’s a have a look at a number of the many LGBTQ2+ composers who’ve made important contributions to the classical music repertoire.

Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)

Occasions have been totally different within the seventeenth century, when sexuality was extra fluid in idea. Lully’s quite open bisexuality was tolerated, a minimum of to a sure diploma. (Extra inflexible definitions of what it meant to be a person wouldn’t arrive till the following century.) All the identical, Louis XIV of France was identified to disapprove of Lully’s way of life, even because the Italian-born composer grew to become a favorite at his court docket. Lully is greatest identified for his operas, together with many collaborations along with his good friend playwright Molière. He’s credited with creating the Baroque opera in addition to the French Overture which grew to become extremely popular throughout his time. He additionally wrote sacred music, and ballets.

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 to 1921)

Camille Saint-Saëns was a baby prodigy earlier than evolving right into a composer and conductor, together with a gifted freelance musician. Firmly planted within the Romantic period, Saint-Saëns grew to become greatest identified for his sympohonic poems, in addition to particular items such because the opera Samson et Dalila and his Symphony No. #3 for the organ. He was a champion of French music, in distinction with the Wagnerian theatricality that was common throughout his lifetime. Saint-Saëns’ sexuality was by no means broached overtly, and he married a 20 12 months outdated lady when he was 40. After the demise of their two kids, nevertheless, he deserted her to journey extensively. There have been many rumours about his sexuality throughout his lifetime, not solely as a result of his social circle included a number of the most outstanding homosexual personalities of the period. He spent his winters in Algeria, which was referred to as a favoured vacation vacation spot for European gays. He’s reported to have said, “I’m not a gay, I’m a pederast.”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 to 1893)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote a number of the most beloved music of all time, and was one of many first main Russian composers to realize worldwide standing. He left a legacy of symphonies, operas, ballets, piano concertos and a single violin concerto, overtures, cantatas, choral works, string quartets, a string sextet, and greater than 100 particular person piano items and songs. His ballets have turn out to be iconic works, and his skill to weave Russian themes into the canons of European music had an amazing affect on the longer term technology of composers, together with Stravinsky. A few of his melodies are among the many greatest identified the world over. As a result of tenor of his instances, he saved his love life and affairs as secretive as he may, though there have been persistent rumours, and he saved the corporate of overtly homosexual males. His non-public letters, printed in English solely not too long ago, reveal his passionate emotions for different males. In Russia, his sexuality continues to be a topic of debate.

Aaron Copland with Samuel Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti, Bernardsville, N. J. in 1945 (Photo: Victor Kraft, Library of Congress
Aaron Copland with Samuel Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti, Bernardsville, N. J. in 1945 (Picture: Victor Kraft, Library of Congress)

Samuel Barber (1910 to 1981)

American composer Samuel Barber’s works have been among the many most incessantly carried out for a lot of the twentieth century. His work was characterised by its lyricism; Barber was additionally a baritone who typically carried out his personal work within the early days. Barber received the Pulitzer Prize for Music along with his first opera, Vanessa, in 1958, and was identified for his vocal works, together with orchestral works. He received one other Pulitzer for his Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1963. Samuel Barber lived in New York along with his accomplice, composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti, who wrote the libretto for 3 of Barber’s operas. The couple lived collectively for 4 a long time and remained mates till Barber’s demise.

Benjamin Britten (1913 to 1976)

Britten started composing music as a baby, and added the piano quickly after, together with the viola. Homosexuality was unlawful within the UK throughout Britten’s lifetime, however he wasn’t afraid to broach the subject in his work (Dying in Venice) or his life. He lived overtly along with his accomplice, singer Peter Pears, who usually carried out his items. Britten is likely one of the towering figures of twentieth century opera, with many well-known works together with The Flip of the Screw, and A Midsummer Evening’s Dream. His operas are thought-about groundbreaking, and he usually confronted social points in his works, together with Battle Requiem. He additionally wrote orchestral, chamber, and movie music. Britten handed up a ceremonial burial spot at Westminster Abbey so he could possibly be buried with Pears.

Aaron Copland with Benjamin Britten in 1950 (Public domain/Library of Congress)
Aaron Copland with Benjamin Britten in 1950 (Public area/Library of Congress)

Aaron Copland (1900 to 1990)

Aaron Copland has left a legacy of common classical music with a distinctly American flavour, together with his enormously common Appalachian Spring, and Fanfare for the Widespread Man. Born to a musical Jewish household in Broooklyn, he later studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Aaron got here to just accept his sexual orientation early, and saved his private life very non-public. Nonetheless, he was identified to have had affairs with many musicians, artists, and dancers over his lifetime. He survived the McCarthy years, accused of being leftist, and shifted from composition to conducting. He mentored a technology of American musicians, together with Leonard Bernstein.

Wendy Carlos (Born 1939)

American musician and composer Wendy Carlos was born below the title Walter in Rhode Island. She studied composition at Columbia College in New York, working with the Columbia-Princeton Digital Music Middle. She helped to develop the Moog synthesizer, the primary commercially obtainable digital keyboard within the Moog household. Carlos rose to prominence with the discharge of Switched-On Bach in 1968, an album of Bach she carried out on the Moog. It not solely received her three Grammy Awards, it helped to popularize the instrument. Carlos went on to attain main Hollywood films, together with Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980). Carlos helped to lift consciousness about transgendered folks and what they face by going public together with her transition in 1979, revealing that she’d been residing as a girl since 1968.

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