A ground breaking composer and conductor, and activist in women’s rights movements, Elizabeth Kuyper was born in The Netherlands in 1877 and died in Switzerland in 1953.
In 1901, she became the first woman to be admitted to study composition at the Meisterschule für Komposition in Berlin, then led by the renowned composer Max Bruch. In 1905, Elisabeth Kuyper became the first woman composer to be awarded the Mendelssohn Prize, and then in 1908, the first woman to be appointed as a professor of Composition and Theory at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.
Her mentor Bruch described Elisabeth Kuyper’s compositions as “notable for their independent inspiration, beauty of form and forceful melody.”
To overcome the limited professional opportunities for women musicians, Elisabeth Kuyper formed and led new ensembles, starting in 1908 with a women’s choir, then in 1910 with the Berlin Women Musicians’ Orchestra, and eventually, the London Women’s Symphony Orchestra in 1923, and the American Women’s Symphony Orchestra in New York in 1924.
Two previously-unrecorded compositions by Elisabeth Kuyper are featured on the Feminae release Kuyper, Rediscovering a Dutch Master: the Sonata for Violin and Piano, opus 1, described as “masterfully treated” by Het Nieuws van de Dag, and the Concerto in B minor for Violin and Orchestra, opus 10, which according to Die Musik, belongs in the lineage of violin concertos by Bruch, Vieuxtemps, Lalo, and Saint-Saëns, due to the “noble melodies of the cantilenas, the beautiful orchestration and the massiveness of the violin.”