Reviewed by: Les Reynolds, editor, ProQuest
Dedicated to the lives, works, roles and legacies of women in music, this journal – though small in number of pages – contains important biographies, analyses, and sheet music presentations of musical works, reviews of recordings and music collections, and research articles pertaining to issues of importance within the theme of women in music. Though somewhat scholarly in content, the material is well-presented, thoroughly-documented, and interestingly written. Much of this information is likely nowhere else available, at least not as pervasively as similar content about well-known male musicians. The very existence of this journal bears this out.
The Spring 2015 issue (13/1) – a special centenary issue – is dedicated to the journal’s namesake on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Vítezslava Kaprálová (1915-1940), and contains a biographical feature. Kaprálová is noted as “an important representative of inter-war Czech music”; and by some scholars she is regarded as one of the most promising composers of her generation. Unfortunately, due to the pressures of composing and simply surviving in World War II, along with the ravages of tuberculosis, Kaprálová succumbed to that disease at the early age of 25. The score of one of her compositions is presented in the centenary issue, along with a list of several of her musical scores the Society helped publish. Half a dozen recordings featuring her music are also reviewed.
Past issues of the KSJ hold articles which include the following:
1) A biography about Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, elder sister of famed composer Felix Mendelssohn. It is noted she composed in much the same style as her brother, and created nearly 400 works – yet most were never published.
2) A research article on possible factors leading to neglect of female choral music composers in music history writings
3) An article about how contemporary female composers use multimedia technology to present their works, such as the multi-sensory operas by Laurie Anderson.
4) Various short analyses and score presentations of works by Kaprálová.
5) A biography of American composer Amy Beach, regarded as the first American woman to compose successfully in the larger forms (such as symphonies).
The above list is by no means comprehensive; but it does present a sampling of the features addressing the themes of women in music both historically and currently – which makes this a very important journal.