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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Women Composers Score Project


In the Western classical music tradition, the closest representation of a composer’s intention is the printed music or score. Published scores are a necessity for the study of music, whether by a performer, musicologist, or educator. As archival sources are to history, as research data is to the sciences, so are scores to the study of music.

The UW–Madison Mills Music Library has built up an excellent representative collection of scores over the years, but there are gaps. This project will help address one gap, that of scores by women composers, by securing purchase of about 200 scores by women composers. As Doctor of Musical Arts students look to diversify their concerts, as graduate students in musicology ask urgent questions, and as faculty seek to guide and explore both musical inclusivity and gender issues in music, they all require printed scores.

It is important to note that scores are still primarily available in a paper format. There are only two electronic databases of music scores available on annual subscription, and neither would address the lack of scores by women composers. The materials acquired through this project will be printed music, either a score or score and parts, all in new condition. The music will be selected from the Western classical tradition, composed in any time period, and written for a range of instruments and voices. All composers will be women, representing a variety of cultural backgrounds. The individual scores aren’t necessarily rare, as they are in-print, commercial publications. The value comes in strengthening the collective presence of compositions by women.

In addition to the Mead Witter School of Music, these library acquisitions will support the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies program. There is also interest in women and music in other academic units, particularly non-Western area studies and cultural studies.


Susan C. Cook, Professor, Mead Witter School of Music


Jeanette Casey, Head, Mills Music Library


Margaret Butler, Associate Professor, Mead Witter School of Music