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About This Site

by Rose Eide-Altman , Editor
[Background] [Sources] [Awards]

This site, Women at the Piano, was created to fill the void of a reference book exclusively on women pianists, and the lack of recent reference material on pianists in general. Today there are classes and on-going research about women in music, but most of it centers around the composer. With so many young women studying the piano the age-old question is "Why aren't there more women concert pianists, particularly past their 30's?" Maybe studying the lives of performing artists will yield some answers.

The idea for this site, and a compilation of biographical information, first began when I attended a doctoral dissertation presentation by Cheryl Branham, at the University of Maryland in 1995, which included information gathered from personal interviews of 23 women concert pianists and/or teachers primarily based in the United States (See list of interviewees and further information) . These interviews took place in the early 1990's and resulted in 700 pages of appendix material in her final dissertation, which is listed below in Sources . Shortly after it reached the library shelves I read through the interviews and found them not only fascinating but very encouraging. Here were women who continued to hone their skills at the piano on a professional level throughout their life, despite obstacles and other demands on their time and energy. It made me curious about the life experiences of artists from the past and led me to study deeply into the life of another concert pianist: Agatha Backer Grondahl . She was a Norwegian pianist/composer who was worshipped by George Bernard Shaw and was a friend and collaborative artist with Edvard Grieg. Thankfully her life, along with several women in this site, has been documented in a dissertation, though it is not readily available to the general public (published in Norwegian only), as are few of the memoirs and biographies of these women, for one reason or another.

As this site expands to include more material I hope that it will provide motivation and encouragement to the many women of all ages who enjoy playing the piano but may lack the self-confidence to share their music with others. For most listeners it takes that personal interaction in a live performance to "turn them on" to classical music and to become supporters of the arts. It begins at the grassroot level, musicians sharing with friends and community. Share yourself and make a difference!!

Submissions and suggestions for this site are welcome!


Most of my research takes place at the University of Maryland, School of Music Library, which also contains the International Piano Archives at Maryland. Originally, the names in Yesterday's Concert Pianists and Concert Artists Living Today consisted of all those women mentioned in the books listed below by David Dubal and Harold Schonberg. Each new name is checked with the remaining sources listed, as well as those sources referenced in Hixon (i.e. Baker, Groves or Thompson). Unfortunately the Lyle and Kehler books are out-of-print, but if you can find them they are wonderful sources of names and biographical material of hundreds of pianists, men and women. Other pianists' web sites that are submitted are in the list of Other Contemporary Classical Pianists where you will meet many of today's rising stars of the keyboard.

  • Branham, Cheryl. Piano/Forte: A study of women concert pianists' lives and careers. University of Maryland College Park, 1995 (UMI#9622179)(See list of pianists and ordering information)
  • Dubal, David. The Art of the Piano: its performers, literature, and recordings. 2nd Edition New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1995
  • Hixon, Donald L. And Don A. Hennessee. Women in music: an encyclopedic biobibliography. 2nd Edition Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1993
  • Kehler, George. The Piano in Concert. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1982
  • Lyle, Wilson. A Dictionary of Pianists. New York, N.Y.: Schirmer Books, 1985
  • Schonberg, Harold C. The Great Pianists, from Mozart to the Present. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963
  • International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory. In the classical and light-classical fields. Cambridge, Eng.: International Biographical Centre, 1996
  • Music Index Online (Only completely accessible through subscription, usually at libraries)
  • Musical America Online (Only completely accessible through subscription)

April 13, 2001 award:
Entertainment site of the week at 7 Wonders

This page last updated September 2, 2001

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