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Music and the Skillful Listener

by Denise Von Glahn

For Denise Von Glahn, listening is that special quality afforded women who have been fettered for generations by the maxim "be seen and not heard." In Skillful Listeners, Von Glahn explores the relationship between listening and musical composition focusing on nine American women composers inspired by the sounds of the natural world:Amy Beach, Marion Bauer, Louise Talma, Pauline Oliveros, Joan Tower, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Victoria Bond, Libby Larsen, and Emily Doolittle. Von Glahn situates "nature composing" among the larger tradition of nature writing and argues that, like their literary sisters, works of these women express deeply held spiritual and aesthetic beliefs about nature. Drawing on a wealth of archival and original source material, Von Glahn skillfully employs literary and gender studies, ecocriticism and ecomusicology, and the larger world of contemporary musicological thought to tell the stories of nine women composers who seek to understand nature through music.

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