Ladies of Brass

To mark International Women’s Day, 2021, here are few papers of mine which look at the contribution women made to brass bands and their performances as brass soloists in the early days. From the solo performer to the female brass bands, and the women who wrote music.

Kate Baker’s Ladies’ Silver Cornet Band, 1888

Women and Brass: the female brass bands of the 19th and 20th centuries – Brass bands have been a musical force across the world over the last 200 years. Mainly concentrated in Europe, North America and Australasia, they were predominantly male, and the members were largely working class. The female brass band is a somewhat rare beast, even today, though it did enjoy a “golden era” during the late 1800s and early 1900s in the USA. In this paper are details of some 410 female brass bands – a very small number compared to their male equivalents
PDF – Women and Brass

Soft lips on cold metal: female brass soloists of the 19th and early 20th centuries – During the later 1800s and early 1900s there were increasing numbers of women musicians taking part in the musical life of the western world. Whether as instrumental soloists; members of family groups; amateur or professional bands and orchestras; string, brass and mixed ensembles; and vaudeville performers; these female musicians earned their place in history – one which has largely been overlooked in favour of their male counterparts. This paper documents a number of these solo brass performers, giving an insight into their lives and performances (originally published in 2018).
PDF – Soft Lips

Damen ohne Blasinstrumente – the non-brass ladies’ entertainment groups of the German Empire 1895-1918: an illustrated directory – Travelling musicians and entertainers had been a part of European life for centuries. In the German speaking countries of Europe during the German Empire there arose a large number of “Damen Kapellen”, troupes of musical and variety entertainers consisting largely of women, usually led by a man, and occasionally including males as players. This paper (in three parts) gives an illustrated directory of some 350 such ensembles (excluding the brass instrumentalists covered in my paper “Damen und Damen”). It includes various other musical ensembles, vocalists, dancers, acrobats, and general variety acts.
PDF – Damen und Damen

Scoring for the ladies: the women composers of music for brass bands – A brief look at the women who have composed music for brass band, and the initiative of the Harrogate Band to highlight their music
PDF – Scoring for the ladies

The cornet madam and the trombonist actress – two extraordinary women at the turn of the 20th century – A look at the lives of Antonia Gonzales in New Orleans and Marguerite Dufay in Paris.
PDF – The cornet madam

Beatrice Pettit (1872-1922) – a cornet soloist who thrived in the nascent ladies’ orchestras of the late 19th century in Britain – Beatrice Pettit was one of many accomplished female brass musicians who made a career out of their music in the 19th century and early 20th century. She started to perform at the age of 15, and her first appearance in public was in November 1888. She went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music, and became a soloist on cornet with a number of orchestras, bands and entertainment troupes over the years. She was also accomplished as a pianist and soprano vocalist. She was particularly associated with Rosabel Watson’s Æolian Ladies’ Orchestra, the English Ladies’ Orchestral Society, and Eleanor Clauson’s Ladies’ Pompadour Band
PDF – Beatrice Pettit

Louverne Ladies’ Brass Band – fleeing France during WW1 – A professional band that fled France during WW1 and toured the USA with the Billy “Single” Clifford Company.
Blog post – Louverne Ladies

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