Piano-string trios by selected American women composers, 1923--1945: A study and performance guide

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)


Music Performance

First Committee Member

Paul Posnak - Committee Chair


An extensive amount of scholarship has recently been devoted to gender issues in music and in the music of women composers, Although research on women composers' music is increasing, there have been very few in-depth studies regarding the chamber music of American women composers. There also have been relatively few performances of this repertoire.The increase of interest in chamber music performance and study during the early part of the twentieth-century in America encouraged women composers to explore a variety of chamber music genres. This study will focus exclusively on three trios for piano and strings written between 1923 and 1945. The composers whose works will be studied are Mary Howe, Ulric Cole, and Fannie Dillon. Although these works were selected because of their merit in compositional style and musical interest, they were composed at a very significant time for women in American history. The woman's suffrage movement had just culminated in the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 allowing women to vote. After this, societal views of a woman's role slowly changed throughout the next three decades allowing women to have an impact in venues other than social circles, such as literature, the arts, aviation, and sports.The purpose of this paper is to provide a performance guide for these three trios. It contains an introductory section that establishes the need for the study, a summary of the literature pertaining to the topic, an explanation of the procedures used to complete the study, and a chapter on each trio discussing performance and rehearsal suggestions for the pianist and ensemble. It also includes a short background description of the influence of women upon the musical culture of the early to mid-twentieth-century. It is the author's hope that this performance guide to a unique and overlooked part of the American chamber music literature might increase interest in the performance of these piano trios, as well as of chamber music repertoire by other women composers.


Music; Women's Studies

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