photo: Ruth Lomon (left) and Iris Graffman Wenglin

Canadian-born composer Ruth Lomon (1930-2017) numbered among her teachers Frances Judd Cooke and Miklos Schwalb at New England Conservatory, Witold Lutoslawski at England’s Dartington College, and Lutoslawski and Henri Dutilleux at Centre Acanthes in Provence, France. A composer of concertos for piano, bassoon, and trumpet, Lomon was probably best known for her song-cycle Songs of Remembrance, and her oratorio, Testimony of Witnesses for chorus, orchestra, and soloists. Both works are based on the poetry of Holocaust victims and survivors that Lomon researched at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, Israel, and the library at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.


Commissions included Odyssey, a trumpet concerto for former BSO principal trumpet Charles Schlueter, and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston. ReWeavings, a chamber work composed for Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai, was commissioned by the Abiquiu NM Chamber Music Festival. The work is scored for Native American flute, clarinet, cello, piano, and marimba. In 2016, The Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Bell, released an album of viola and orchestral music including Lomon’s orchestration of the Rebecca Clarke viola and piano sonata, commissioned by the Rebecca Clarke Society and performed by Sarah-Jane Bradley, viola. The recording label was Dutton Epoch Records. Lomon made about 60 visits of several weeks’ duration to New Mexico, where her interest in Native American ceremonials was the catalyst for the composition of such works as ReWeavings, Imprints, and Five Ceremonial Masks.


In addition to her career in composing and teaching, Lomon was a distinguished pianist. She made her piano debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1949, at the age of 18, while earning her Licentiate of Music at McGill University. Lomon concertized from 1971-1983 with the two-piano team Lomon and Wenglin in concerts of standard repertoire and specializing in the music of women composers. Lomon performed her own works as a soloist internationally.


At the end of her life she was working with great determination on this piano duo album project.  For a list of her scores, visit I Resound Press at More information about Lomon is available at



Iris Graffman Wenglin is from a distinguished musical family. Joseph Graffman, Wenglin’s father, played the string bass in The New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch, and her cousin is pianist Gary Graffman. Wenglin made her first professional appearance as a pianist at age 13 on the Jinx Falkenberg TV program, and at age 16 she started working as a rehearsal pianist for NBC Opera Theatre. As a teenager she performed several times on WNYC’s “Young Artist” series. She graduated from Music and Art High School and holds a B.A. and an M.A. from New York University and a M.Ed. from the Manhattan School of Music.


Wenglin was pianist for the Lyricum Wind Ensemble and the Ancora Trio (cello, flute, and piano). She also had an extensive career as an accompanist. Wenglin taught piano for over 50 years at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and privately in both New York and the Boston area, and she adjudicated for the New England Piano Teachers Association. Wenglin remains active in her retirement, giving concerts for the Friends of the Sarasota (FL) Concert Association as well as lecture-recitals in Sarasota. In 2012 she gave a concert with the violinist Joseph Silverstein.



Born in Leipzig to musical parents, Clara Wieck Schumann (1819–1896) was groomed for a career as a concert pianist by her father. Wieck began performing at age 11, and over the 77 years of her career she gave more than 1,300 concerts and gained international attention. In 1840 Wieck married the composer Robert Schumann, and she performed and promoted Schumann’s music throughout the rest of her life. The Schumanns were friends and supporters of Johannes Brahms, and Clara Schumann and Brahms remained close after Robert Schumann’s death in 1856.


Highlights among her compositions include a Piano Concerto, which she wrote at age 14 (1833), Soirees Musicales (1836), Three Romances for Violin and Piano (1839), Six Lieder (1843), Three Preludes and Fugue for piano (1845), Piano Trio (1846), and Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann (1853), and many songs and solo piano works. Despite her successes, Schumann was discouraged from composing by attitudes that dismissed creative work by women, and by the need to support herself and her eight children after her husband’s death, which she could do most effectively by performing and teaching.


Lomon and Wenglin’s pioneering performances of music by Schumann helped to reignite interest in her music, some of which has become widely celebrated (especially in 2019, the 200th anniversary of her birth).


Schumann’s Five Caprices (1831) and Polonaise (1832) are well-crafted solo piano pieces. They have grace, rhythmic definition, and some lovely, unexpected harmonic detours.


Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983) is best known as the female member of “Les Six,” a group of French composers who produced a fresh, light musical style after World War I. Tailleferre’s father disapproved of her interest in music, but her mother conspired to help her. Tailleferre entered the Paris Conservatory in 1912, where she won multiple prizes. Jeux de plein air, for two pianos, launched Tailleferre on a path to recognition when Erik Satie heard it in 1918.  He was so enthusiastic that he embraced Tailleferre on the spot as “my musical daughter” and invited her to contribute to a series of concerts he was producing. Two years later, early in 1920, a critic labelled the young composers of those events as “Les Six.”


Tailleferre was active in the United States as well as in France. In 1924, Diaghilev commissioned a ballet from her for the Ballets Russes. She performed her Piano Concerto in 1925 with major U.S. orchestras including the Boston Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. She composed prolifically in genres including opera, music for wind ensemble, film music, chamber works, songs, and solo piano music. She continued to compose and perform as a nonagenarian.


Jeux de plein air, with two parts, La Tirlitentaine and Cache-cache Mitoula (Hide-and-Seek), is inspired by the joy and exuberant energy of children at play.  The second movement is an early example of bitonality in piano music.



Louise Talma (1906–1996) was born in France to American parents who were both musicians, and she was raised in New York City.  She studied at Columbia University, the Institute of Musical Art (the predecessor of the Juilliard School), and New York University.


From 1926 on, Talma attended the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau for many summers and studied with Nadia Boulanger. She was profoundly influenced by Boulanger and credited her with being “the first one who seemed to have an idea that I had a talent for composition.”


Talma became a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony in 1943. There she met Thornton Wilder, with whom she collaborated on her opera The Alcestiad—the first opera by an American woman to be performed in Europe. Talma composed in genres including orchestral, songs, chamber, and solo piano. A pioneer in many ways, she was the first woman to receive two Guggenheim awards and the first female composer to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


At a small concert at MacDowell, given in honor of Mrs. Marian MacDowell, she performed with Lukas Foss in the premiere of her own Four-Handed Fun. Talma described Four-Handed Fun (composed in 1939) as “the very first piece that really made my reputation … people are always smiling when this piece is played, so I assume that it’s amusing.”


Miriam Gideon (1906–1996) was born in Greeley CO. She studied composition with Lazare Saminsky of New York’s Temple Emanu-El and with Roger Sessions, a proponent of 12-tone music. She taught composition at four schools, including the Jewish Theological Seminary where Hugo Weisgall supervised her work toward a doctorate in composition.


Gideon’s best-known works include: Fortunato, an opera (1958), Symphonia Brevis (1953), a string quartet (1946), and sonatas for flute (1943) and piano (1977). According to the ACA website, she took great pride in a critic saying about her Seasons of Time (1969) that he had “never heard so many right notes.” In general, she avoided serialism and moved freely between tonal and atonal idioms. She helped found the American Composers Orchestra in 1977 and was regarded as a pioneer among women composers.


Gideon set poetry from many different cultures to music, but she had a particularly strong affinity for Jewish religious texts. As a result, she was invited to write music for two Jewish Sabbath services (1971 and 1974).


A prize in her name is given annually to an outstanding woman composer over the age of 50 who is a member of IAWM. It seems only fitting that the winner of this prize in 1999 was Ruth Lomon.


Homage a ma jeunesse is a youthful work, written when Gideon was 29.  Its charm, high spirits and playfulness belie a fluid treatment of form and variation techniques.




Barbara Pentland (1912–2000) was among the first Canadian composers to employ modernist and experimental techniques. She started composing at age 9, although her conventional parents disapproved of her vocation. However, she obtained musical instruction at private schools in Montreal and Paris, and in 1936 she received a scholarship to study at Juilliard. In the summer of 1941 and 1942 she studied with Aaron Copland at the Berkshire Music Center. During World War II she taught at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, and from 1949 to 1963 she taught at the University of British Columbia. She received several honorary degrees and was named to the Order of Canada in 1989. Although she composed in a wide range of genres, Pentland wrote more chamber and solo works: music that she performed herself, or that she could expect to be played by the loyal musicians who championed her music.


Pentland composed Three Piano Duets After Pictures by Paul Klee in 1958 and performed it herself in 1961, with pianist Robert Rogers. The first movement, “Small Fool in Trance,” displays an expansive lyricism, layered with spatters of rhythmic ostinato and a spare texture of pointillism. Movement II, “Surfaces in Tension” begins languidly and builds to a turning point, followed by a retreat to the opening texture and a dissolution of energy. Movement III, “Fish Magic” moves with a delicate insistence, at times playful, but always with momentum.



Marga Richter (b.1926) once said, “Composing music is my response to a constant desire to transform my perceptions and emotions into music… Everything I become aware of as beautiful, or mysterious, or painful, or joyful, or unknowable (a painting, a photograph, a landscape, a poem, other music, other people) may become… a source of inspiration.”


Born in Wisconsin, she started piano lessons at 3 and was writing music by age 15. She earned an M.A. in composition at Juilliard, studying with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. In the 1950s, MGM invited her to compose for Menachem Pressler and others, and recorded her Sonata for Piano, Concerto for Piano and Violas, Cellos and Basses, Lament for Strings, Transmutation – Eight Songs on Chinese Texts, and Two Chinese Songs. She wrote two ballet scores – Abyss (1964) and Bird of Yearning (1967). Her Landscapes of the Mind I, written in the mid-1970s, was widely performed, as was Blackberry Vines and Winter Fruit.


In 1988, after traveling with her husband in Tibet, she composed Quanri for cello and piano. Also inspired by Asian culture is Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, Richter’s setting of 39 Chinese songs. Her opera, Riders to the Sea, set in 19th-century Ireland, premiered in 2002. She continues to write music and supervise performances and recordings.


In Variations on a Theme by Latimer for piano 4 hands, the theme goes through modal treatments, a rollicking 6/8 version, a fast contrary-motion rendition, an extension of the melody in range and, most spectacularly, a rigorous fugue that turns into a kaleidoscopic fantasia.



Born in Edinburgh, Thea Musgrave (b.1928) studied at the University of Edinburgh and then the Paris Conservatoire as a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. She married conductor Peter Mark in 1971 and has lived in the United States since 1972. As Professor at Queens College, C.U.N.Y from 1987-2002, she guided many gifted student composers.


Musgrave’s oeuvre shows an interest in the programmatic and dramatic. Her program music explores the natural world: The Seasons, Turbulent Landscapes, Ring Out Wild Bells, Journey through a Japanese Landscape, and Autumn Sonata. Her operas revolve around a single compelling figure, historical or fictional: The Voice of Ariadne (1972), Mary, Queen of Scots (1977), A Christmas Carol (1979), Harriet, the Woman Called Moses (1984), Simon Bolivar (1992) and Pontalba (2003).


Her interest in the dramatic also informs her instrumental music. In her Clarinet Concerto, the soloist moves around the different sections of the orchestra; in the Horn Concerto the orchestral horns are stationed around the concert hall.


Musgrave has received numerous fellowships and awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Ivors Classical Music Award 2018, and the Queen’s Medal for Music. She was awarded a CBE in the New Years’ Honours List in 2002.


Musgrave’s Excursions (1965) is a series of clever vignettes portraying driving scenarios. No. 5, “Sunday Driver,” runs a lyrical melody over a motoric ostinato; in No. 8, the driver’s theme is drowned out by a caterwauling refrain from the backseat driver.




Jacqueline Fontyn (b.1930) was born in Antwerp, where she began her piano studies at age 5 with the Russian Ignace Bolotine. Bolotine encouraged her to improvise, which may have influenced her decision, at age 15, to become a composer. She studied composition with Marcel Quinet in Brussels and with Max Deutsch in Paris. From 1963 to 1970 she was Professor of Music Theory at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, and from 1970 to 1990 she taught Composition at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.


Fontyn has received many awards, most notably the Óscar Esplá Prize (Spain) and the French Prix Arthur Honegger. In 1993 she was honored by the King of Belgium with the title of baroness.


Her orchestral works include: Quatre Sites (Four Sites, 1977), On a Landscape by Turner (1992), L’anneau de Jade (The Jade Ring, 1996) and Au fil des Siecles (Through the Centuries, 2001). Her preference for unusual groupings is shown in pieces like Mosaico for 4 clarinets and Vent d’est (Concerto for Accordion and Strings, 1957), as well as in many vocal works. In a phone conversation in April 2019, Fontyn said she had just completed a concerto for 2 pianos, percussion and string orchestra.


Spirales I and II for two pianos (published in 1974) shows a vivid timbral imagination at work. At different points, one can hear disjunct intervals in a delicate tracery, deep rumbles, seismic eruptions, patterns that travel in ever-widening circles, and chords clanging like bells.



Born in Warsaw, musician Marta Ptaszyńska (b.1943), is a percussionist, composer, and teacher. She studied composition with Witold Lutosławski in Poland and with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messaien in France. Ptaszyńska moved to the United States in 1972. She earned a degree in Percussion Performance in 1974 and taught at several colleges before becoming a music professor at the University of Chicago in 1998, where she has also been active in Contempo, Chicago’s contemporary music group.


Her humanitarian vision is reflected in works like Holocaust Memorial Cantata (1992) and Fanfare for Peace (1993). Other interests are evident in her Madrigals “Canticum Sonarum” Igor Stravinsky in memoriam for woodwind quartet, string quartet with double bass, trumpet, trombone and gong (1971), Mr. Marimba (1995), an opera for children, Letter to the Sun (2000) for frame drum, percussion quartet and narrator, and Drum of Orfeo (2001), written for Evelyn Glennie. She has been active in groups honoring Polish music and has received awards from the Fromm Foundation, UNESCO, ASCAP, the Percussive Arts Society, and many others. In 1995 she received the Officer Cross of Merit from the Republic of Poland.


In describing her approach to composing, Ptaszyńska wrote, “Since… childhood I have been fascinated by the logic of the digital universe, by the elegance of mathematical progressions and, above all, by the beauty of geometrical symmetry.”


Regarding her Interludes 1 and 2, Ptaszyńska says it best: “My constellations of sounds may be compared to moving galaxies with their own internal gravities, centrifugal forces [and] points of rest.”

Shulamit Ran (b.1949) was born in Tel Aviv to parents who had fled the Holocaust. A child prodigy, she studied early on with Israeli composers Paul Ben-Haim and Alexander Boscovich. Their aesthetic combined aspects of Middle Eastern music with a harmonic world that embraced both tonality and atonality. When Ran was 14, a scholarship allowed her to attend the Mannes School of Music in New York. Ralph Shapey, a composer at the University of Chicago, recruited her to teach there in 1973 after hearing her work O The Chimneys, and he became a lifelong friend and mentor. Ran taught at the school until her retirement in 2015 and also oversaw Chicago’s new music group, Contempo.


Ran was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for her Symphony, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, being only the second woman composer to win this prize. Her opera, Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk), commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, had its debut in 1997. In 1998, the Baltimore Symphony premiered her Vessels of Courage and Hope, marking the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel–a work that is striking for its powerful and original orchestration. Economy of means and emotional intensity characterize her Yearning for Violin and Strings with cello obbligato (2015). Ran has a work in progress to be premiered in 2020 by Indiana University–an opera based on the life of Anne Frank.


Children’s Scenes for one piano four hands was published in 1970. Each of the 10 movements has a fully-fleshed-out personality, no mean feat given that most of them last 45 seconds or less.


— Compiled by Ann Stimson and Liane Curtis



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