News Archives: Carmen Gorgichuk: Published
Monday, August 20th, 2018
If Wolfgang Mozart’s sister were alive today, she may have been as shrewd a businesswoman as Queen Latifah or Madonna instead of disappearing into the dustbins of history.
In fact, although female artists have been contributing to music culture for centuries, women who manage their own careers and produce their own music have only been around in large numbers since the 1980s, when they started to break free from the male-dominated record industries of the time. It’s a realization GPRC’s Fine Arts Chair and music Instructor Carmen Gorgichuk came to nearly 30 years ago as a graduate student at the University of Victoria searching for classical musical compositions written by women.
“I went to the library and put in the name of a prominent female composer for research and zero results came up. So that was a bit daunting, going, ‘Okay, now what?’” said Gorgichuk.
The lack of discussion on women composers in academia prompted Gorgichuk to develop an interdisciplinary course at GPRC called Women in Music – MU2620. While she has been teaching this popular course for the past 11 years, more recently Gorgichuk published some of the results of her research in a book titled, The Composer on Screen.
As one of only two Canadian professors whose work is featured in the book, hers is the only chapter that exclusively addresses female composers: “Sisters of Faith and Genius: Hildegard von Bingen and Nannerl Mozart.”
While von Bingen’s music, which dates back to the 12th century, was archived and available for future study, none of the 18th century written works of Nannerl Mozart – sister of Wolfgang Mozart – had been saved.
“It should be the opposite; as music history progresses we should have more of her work available. So why wasn’t her work saved? How much did she actually write?” said Gorgichuk, who points out that both Mozart children were musical prodigies who toured Europe and enjoyed similarly high praise.
“It’s probably because when women became of marrying age, their focus was on their family and so Mozart’s role would have been to take care of her father.”
Gorgichuk hopes to present her findings in the book, available online at Amazon and at the GPRC library, at future conferences. She also plans to pursue research on romantic relationships between composers and writers, such as the stormy dalliance between composer Frédéric Chopin and a female writer, Aurore Dudevant, who wrote under the male pseudonym George Sand, or between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, who was an amateur pianist.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this amazing compilation of international writers and very excited to work on new projects, and I’m really hoping to share this chapter with students in my Women in Music class and GPRC in general,” said Gorgichuk.
Gorgichuk is the College’s first female chair of the Fine Arts Department and for the past 20 years, was the only female faculty member in the music department until two years ago.
“Is there still work for us to do and glass ceilings to break? Definitely. But I wanted to show students what the history has been like and some of women’s great successes. Taking this course is like throwing a pebble in a pool - it begins to create this ripple of awareness and changed thinking,” said Gorgichuk.
“Despite the fact that things could have been better, we have come a very long way.”
MU2620 will be offered in the fall semester and is held once weekly in the evenings. Students from any discipline are welcome to enroll and do not need to read music; the course is also transferable to other institutions in the province.
More details on The Composer on Screen Essays on Classical Music Biopics Ed. by Paul Fryer.
More details on Women in Music - MU2620 course.