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Reflection Essay of Music and Gender Based on Francesca Caccini

3 pages
744 words
Wesleyan University
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This paper seeks to deal with the comparison of different genders concerning music during the 16th century, taking into consideration the works of Francesca Caccini.


Francesca Caccini was a composer during the Baroque era, well versed with the harp, harpsichord, lute, theorbo, and guitar, and was compared to the likes of Monteverdi and Jacob Peri. Born in Italy on 18th September 1587, she was the daughter of the Gullio Caccini, a prolific instrumentalist composer, and musician.

According to Suzanne Cusick, Francesca Caccini's performance in her political, social, womanhood and musical roles, at a time when women were mere victims of marriage and simple employment, was awe-inspiring (Cusick, n.d). This can be proven by the fact that she stayed independent and still worked for the Medici for thirty years. She was the first woman to ever produce an opera, and at some point the highest paid composer by the Medici family (Cusick, n.d).

She elicited mixed feelings, described as fierce and restless; this was due to a long feud against a fellow male composer with an alleged habit of seducing young singers. At the same time, others considered her gracious gentle and witty. She incorporated women's stereotypes and plights her plays, like the, la Liberazione di Ruggiero (Cusick, n.d).

Although Francesca Caccini was regarded as being at the very top, it is quite evident of the little number of female composers in her time. Also, the fact that she had a gifted musician for a father seems to provide more information regarding her times with reflection to gender and music.

An assumption may be made that music lessons were more available to male genders. An assumption may also be made that although the lessons may have been universal, the superior hierarchical structures that held women to a more subservient place, may have plaid a huge negative role. Women although gifted may have been married off killing their chance at musical careers. Francescas sister is a good example, as although she performed with Francesca while younger, she was married off breaking the group (Gender, Sexuality, and Early music, 2015).

2. Compare and Contrast the Piano Works Composed by Felix and Fannys.

There is a distinguishing characteristic between the two genders, where fannys composition is more exciting, happier, while Felix's composition is quite melancholic and calmer. The two compositions conform to a certain preconception where, the female gender is considered more excitable, while the male is supposed to be calmer, and serious.

I have heard of both composers and am familiar with their work.

3. Briefly describe the stylistic periods of Western art music. Include examples of composers or major works in your answer.

The western art music stylistic periods have gone through six different stages, to the twentieth century. It started with the Gregorian chant, during the middle ages, inspired by the Catholic conquest of the world at the time. During the Renaissance era, sacred music moved from the strict control of the church with notable names like Josquin de Perez, a master of the Flemish style. Secular music also flourished during this time, with instruments being highly popular. The baroque age saw a rebellion against the old methods of composition, and an introduction of the opera is seen. Claudio Monteverdi is an example of a prolific opera composer (Griffith, 2009).

The classical period followed which brought with it the epitome of masterful symphonies, quartets, and sonatas. The orchestra is created and grows to influence the European culture and lifestyle for decades. The classical period was followed by the romantic period, where artists turned to stories that evoked passion in both the opera and the orchestra symphonies. New instruments were introduced, and the growth of the symphony orchestra is witnessed throughout the nineteenth century. Richard Wagner is one of the most influential composers of this era (Griffith, 2009).

The romantic period was followed by the twentieth-century era, where artists of all nationalities tried to experiment with different composers as Arnold Schoenberg experimented with different tonal schemes and harmonies. Others like Claude Debussy created music based on the French art of impressionism. The twentieth century boasts a large number of composers and new additions to the musical styles and expressions (Griffith, 2009).


Cusick, S. Francesca Caccini at the Medici court.Gender, sexuality, and early music. (2015). [Place of publication not identified].

Griffiths, P. (2009). A concise history of western music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jezic, D., & Wood, E. (1994). Women composers. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York.

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