The image combines the four portraits of: Meredith Monk, Jennifer Higdon, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Kaija Saariaho.
Virtuosos of modern music
Sun, November 20, 2022 – Sun, December 11, 2022

In contemporary music, women are still underrepresented and do not get the attention they deserve. With the digital feature »Femmes4Music« the ZKM | Karlsruhe is therefore presenting as part of »Female Perspectives. More Visibility for Female Art« an outstanding female composer of international renown on each of four Sundays.

In its study »Equality & Diversity in Concert Halls«, the British non-profit foundation DONNE, which investigates gender inequality in the music industry, analyzed equality and diversity in 100 orchestras from 27 countries worldwide within the 2020-21 season. The results speak volumes: out of 4,857 concerts, only 556 included compositions by women, a percentage of 11.45%. In all the concerts studied, a total of 14,747 compositions were performed. Only 737 of these were penned by women, which again represents a percentage of 5%.

In order to react to this untenable result, the ZKM presents with »Femmes4Music« in an online format four female composers and musicians born between the 1940s and 1960s, who are less known within the German-speaking world and whose works enjoy the highest international recognition. The format includes specifically written biographies, interviews, and a curated music program.

Women featured in the event series include U.S. composer Meredith Monk, composers Jennifer Higdon and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, also from the U.S., and Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.


Initiator Peter Weibel explains his idea for the digital feature as follows:

»The concert business, especially after the pandemic, narrows more and more to male maestri of 18th and 19th century music. Even the famous canonical edition 'Masters of Music' contains only men. In reality, however, contemporary musical creation is characterized by an extraordinarily polyphonic spectrum, in which the musical voices of women also find their due respect. However, this happens unnoticed by large parts of the public because the responsible institutions do not fulfill their task and duty of mediation, for example public television in Germany.

Since its founding, the ZKM has dedicated an entire department to the medium of music, promoting the far edges of musical journeys in numerous publications, DVDs, performances and residency programs, and giving hundreds of composers the chance to realize their works. A highlight of this endeavor is the digital event series `Femmes4Music´, through which ZKM presents female composers who should have long been part of the »Masters of Music« edition. To achieve this goal, the ZKM is once again becoming a station that provides an auditorium for the four `Maestre di Musica´.«