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Pioneering research project recognised in BBC's Annual Report


The Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC) Forgotten Female Composers project has been singled out for praise in the BBC's 2017-18 annual report.

The project was a collaboration between the AHRC and BBC Radio 3 that shone a light on the significant achievements of five neglected female composers of the past.

The BBC Orchestra performed previously unheard work, which was premiered on BBC Radio 3 on International Women's Day (8 March 2018).

Many of the compositions have been hidden in archives, libraries or private collections for centuries, unheard since their first performance.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the AHRC, said: “This is a wonderful example of the impact that arts and humanities researchers can have by working closely with the media to bring alive their research. The passion and knowledge of the researchers involved was captured in the way that their research helped to tell the story, to millions of people, of the five female composers rescued from the pages of history.

“Our partnership with the BBC, whether the New Generation Thinkers scheme or the Forgotten Female Composers, provides a really important platform to showcase the talents of the researchers that we support.”

The BBC report described the collaboration as: “A project with the Arts and Humanities Research Council to research forgotten works by female composers culminated in a gala concert.

“Radio 3 again curated a day of female composers to mark International Women’s Day, and commissioned Lucy and Helen Pankhurst to write a new work that was freely available to the public to perform in their choirs.”

Sarah Burgess, Portfolio Manager for the AHRC said that the Forgotten Female Composers was a platform for fresh academic research to present the remarkable history and music of these forgotten female composers for rediscovery by today's audiences.

The composers featured were put forward by five academics, selected with the help of the AHRC:

  • Dr Graham Griffiths presented Leokadiya Kashperova (1872 – 1940), a Russian pedagogue and pianist who taught Stravinsky
  • Professor Jeremy Llewellyn chose Marianna Martines (1744 – 1813), an Austrian who enjoyed fame throughout Europe in her lifetime
  • Dr Shirley Thompson put forward Florence B Price (1887 – 1953), an esteemed African American symphonist
  • Dr Anastasia Belina-Johnson proposed Augusta Holmès (1847 – 1903), a French-Irish writer of large-scale oratorios and operas
  • Carola Darwin presented Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868 – 1941), an Austrian whose works range from chamber music to orchestral tone-poems and oratorios.
The five academics involved in the AHRC/BBC Radio 3 Forgotten Women Composers project
The five academics involved in the AHRC/BBC Radio 3 Forgotten Women Composers project (from left to right): Dr Graham Griffiths, Dr Shirley Thompson, Dr Anastasia Belina-Johnson, Professor Jeremy Llewellyn and Dr Carola Darwin

All five academics were then invited to choose a major, previously unrecorded work for the BBC Orchestras and Choirs to record for broadcast on Radio 3.

They spent the past year researching the music of their chosen composer and were instrumental in pulling together the pieces for the International Women’s Day Concert.

In some instances they have had to create orchestral parts from an original manuscript.


The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. The Arts and Humanities Research Council funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners.

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