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Organ Music by Women Composers

Tips for locating organ repertoire by women composers

Research & Writing Tutors

Research and Instruction Librarian for Music & Fine Arts

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Karen Olson
Christiansen Hall of Music 147 (Music Library)
& Rolvaag Library 306

Finding Scores

Halvorson Music Library has several anthologies of organ music by women composers, listed below.

You can also search the websites and databases below to find more women composers whose music might interest you.

Organ Music by Women in Halvorson Music Library

Available in Print:

Available Online:

Suggesting Music for Purchase:

If you discover a score you think the library should own, you can suggest it in the virtual Johann Suggestion Bachs. There is also a physical suggestion box on the Music Library circulation desk. Be sure to add "Music 128" as the course number.

Publisher/Distributor Websites

Check your favorite music publishers and distributors for repertoire.  (Here's the AGO's list of organ music publishers.) Some will provide separate catalogs for women composers.  In other situations, you'll have to navigate to their organ repertoire list and then look at all the composers' names to see which ones are women. (This is tedious, but can also help you find new names!)

The suggestions below veer more towards concert repertoire than service music, but of course there is considerable overlap.

Theodore Front Musical Literature -- TF produces annual catalogs of their new publications by women. Click the "Music by Women Composers" button on their homepage and then use their instrument tabs to sort the list for organ repertoire.

Oxford University Press -- At the OUP organ repertoire list, scroll manually through the composers to identify woman composers.

Hal Leonard -- Here's the HL organ list; use the composer tab on the left to look for names.

Bibliographies and Databases

Composer Diversity Database -- A general database of composers representing an array of diversities. "Organ" is not included as a search factor, so you'd have to visit each composer's linked website to see if they've written for organ.

Database for Historically Underrepresented Composers -- a St.Olaf-based project by Raina Swanson Edson! To find scores, use the dropdown arrow to navigate to "advanced search." Set field to "gender identity..." and select "woman". Add another field, set it to "instrumentation" and type in the term "organ." Set the collection to "score" to pull up scores.

Did you use the database?  Please let us know how it worked with this survey!

Society of Women Organists -- Based in the United Kingdom, this group offers a downloadable pdf list of organ music by women (the work catalogue) as well as a directory of women composers for organ that includes biographies and other details (the directory). Use their "composers" tab to find these lists.

People Whose Music I've Actually Played

Sometimes it helps to know what repertoire someone else has used! Here's some music by women composers I have personally played. I am an extremely average organist; if I can learn this, so can you! Many of these composers have written other works for organ as well. I've added links to recordings.

Pamela Decker, On This Day, Earth Shall Ring (published by Wayne Leupold)

Jeanne Demessieux, 12 Choral-Preludes on Gregorian Chant Themes, op. 8 (published by Alfred)

Cecilia McDowall, O Antiphon Sequence (published by Oxford UP)

Deirdre Piper, Sarum: Variations on an Advent Chant (download from the Canadian Music Centre)

Gwyneth Walker, Variations on Amazing Grace (published by ECS/Morningstar)