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Expanding the Western Classical Music Canon with Paula Maust

August 19 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

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Although restrictive cultural expectations and the atrocities of slavery stifled an unfathomable amount of creative output, numerous women and POC composed Western classical music before the twentieth century. Yet the voices of most of these composers have been erased from our historical narratives. Nowhere is this historical inaccuracy more prominent than in the complete dearth of gender and racial representation in contemporary pedagogical resources. For example, the seven most-used music theory textbooks in the U.S. contain 2930 musical examples of which just 1.67% are by POC and 2.15% are by women. Most music history textbooks exhibit similar demographic patterns, with the only substantial racial and gender representation occurring in chapters on contemporary music. How did we get to this point of serious erasure two decades into the twenty-first century? My presentation introduces my endeavors to begin the process of correcting the narrative about musical women and POC through Expanding the Music Theory Canon. In addition to tracing the development of the Western classical music canon in tandem with pedagogical and reference resources, I evaluate the pejorative sexist and racist tropes that remain prevalent in biographical writing about underrepresented composers, discuss the results of a recent study I conducted on representation in music education, and introduce the music of several composers. Ultimately, I point to the ways we can meaningfully contribute to the changing face of Western classical music.

Dr. Paula Maust is a performer, scholar, and educator dedicated to fusing research and creative practice to amplify underrepresented voices and advocate for social change. She is the creator of expandingthemusictheorycanon.com, an open-source collection of music theory examples by women and composers of color. A print anthology based on the project is under contract with SUNY Press, and she has published articles in Women & Music and the Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music. She is currently working on The Ugly Virtuosa, a book and performance project about the pejorative language used to describe early modern women on stage in England, France, and Italy. As a harpsichordist and organist, she co-directs Burning River Baroque and Musica Spira, curating thought-provoking programs that connect baroque music to contemporary social issues. Beginning Fall 2021, Paula will be an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Prior to her appointment at Peabody, she taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. See paula.maust.com


August 19
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
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