December 24 – Happy Birthday, Libby Larsen

Posted on December 24, 2017

When we hear "classical composer," we usually instantly think of the most famous of the famous European composers of the 17th to 19th Centuries. I mean, I instantly think of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.

I googled "classical composer," and those three were the top three composers in my google search (although in a different order). 

The other top responses, in order, are Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Haydn, Schubert, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Wagner.

Yep, they are all European. All from the 17th to 19th Centuries. And you know what else they all are?


Back in the 17th to 19th Centuries, it wasn't easy for women to get recognition for creating art, including composing music. But these days it's a bit better.

One woman who made things a better for women in music is classical composer Libby Larsen, who was born in Delaware on this date in 1950. She's lived much of her life in Minnesota.

She is a co-founder of the American Composers Forum, and she has held residencies with a variety of orchestras.

Larsen learned to play piano at age three - and she was self-taught! She watched her older sister's piano lessons and later copied everything she'd seen. Of course, she had lessons herself eventually and had a variety of different musical influences - from her mom's boogie-woogie to her dad's Dixieland band, from her Gregorian chanting in Catholic school to a degree in music at university.

Larsen says that her music is inspired by poetry and paintings and architecture and philosophy, and she loves to read scores.

(Scores are written music in which the various vocal and instrumental parts are written separately from one another and arranged vertically on large pages).

By the way, I was wondering what makes classical music "classical," and I couldn't find a very good definition! I read one definition that says that it is "serious" music that follows long-established principles. Hmmm... I think that a lot of other music is serious, too!

I read one definition that says what classical music is NOT - folk, jazz, rock, pop (which stands for "popular"). Ooookay. 

Here is another article that explores the question, "What makes classical music classical?"

And here is a video about Larsen.

Also on this date:

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