Something I’ve discovered over my years of being first a music student and later a teacher is that some stories are easier to find than others. If I wanted to learn more about Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and the other composers that generally spring to mind when classical music fans are asked to list the greats of Western classical music, that was easy: there were endless books, videos, articles, and even movies at my disposal. If I wanted to learn more about anyone else–especially women and minorities–well, that was a little harder.
One of the features I intend to have on this blog is a “history hunt” of sorts, where overshadowed composers and musicians of history can be given a moment in the sun. It may be a brief moment by necessity–being neglected for decades (or even centuries), or being from a period in history with few surviving records, means the amount of detail available can be scarce. But at the same time, I believe it’s important to know that these music lovers of the past existed, and that they were people just like us.
The first person on this history hunt is one of those composers that we don’t know very much about. Her name was Tibors de Sarenom, also known as Tiburge de Sarenom. She was born around 1130, nearly 900 years ago, and was a noblewoman from France who lived in a castle called Sarenom (which is where her name comes from). She wrote music and poetry and there’s even a record of her acting as a judge for a poetry game!
Almost none of her music survives, but there’s still a little bit on Youtube if you’d like to know what she wrote.
On a side note, a lot of the women that we know wrote music in history were rich noble ladies and even princesses! In general, the richer you were, the more time you had to devote to things that weren’t working to survive, and that’s only started to change very recently. So if it seems as though I’m ignoring more ordinary women, it’s only because it’s even harder to find their stories.
To Learn More (sources):
Tibors de Sarenom on Wikipedia
Cool Chicks from History on Tumblr (Note for parents/guardians: Tumblr asks its members to be 13+. This entry is safe for all ages.)
Header image courtesy of Michelle Dee on DeviantART (Another 13+ site. This artwork is safe for all ages.)