Women Composers

Directors: Kyra Steckeweh, Tim van Beveren / 95 min. / 2018 / German, English, French (ST: German) / Germany

Women composers – a cinematic and musical search for their roots.

Directors: Kyra Steckeweh, Tim van Beveren
Cinematography: Tim van Beveren, Nils Liebheit
Editing: Kamil Goerlich, Tim van Beveren, Rita Wally

Link to English version of the film.

Filmmaker Tim van Beveren accompanies pianist Kyra Steckeweh on her search for clues across Europe to the places where Mel Bonis (1858-1937), Lili Boulanger (1893-1918), Emilie Mayer (1812-1883) and Fanny Hensel (1805-1847) lived and worked.
They make exciting discoveries in archives, libraries and with descendants of the composers. In interviews with experts, they get answers to their questions: What kind of resistance did female composers have to face in the 19th century? Why are works by women so rarely played in classical music concerts?

Kyra Steckeweh (host), Prof. Dr. Beatrix Borchard, Christine Geliot, Dr. Joerg Kuhn, Mary Ellen Kitchens, Laurent Martin, Ingrid Mayer, Tobias Rainfall, Dr. Almut Runge-Woll, Susanne Wosnitzka, and Reinhard Wulfhorst

Director: Kyra Steckeweh, Tim van Beveren
Screenplay: Ivan Salaj
Dramaturgy: Ivan Salaj
Camera: Nils Liebheit, Tim van Beveren
Sound: Jonathan Dries, Max Heiliger, Alexander Notty
Graphic: Harald Schroeder
Editing: Kamil Goerlich, Tim van Beveren, Rita Wally
Mixture: Jonathan Dries
Legal advice: Dr. Andrew Behr
Production: tvbmedia productions- Berlin
Distribution: tvbmedia productions (DE, A, CH)
World Sales: Windrose SAS, Paris
Website: https://komponistinnen.com/

Tim van Beveren is a journalist, photographer, cinematographer and filmmaker.

He studied law in Bonn and art in Italy. He has been in the media industry for over 30 years and has been involved in several award-winning film and television productions (including Bundes-filmpreis, New York Festivals, and the International Great Lakes Film Festival) as a writer, director and collaborator. In 2016, two of his photographs for the “Necropolis Project” were awarded an Honorable Mention at the Monochrome Photography Awards. In 2017 and 2018, he also received these awards from the International Photography Awards (IPA), New York.

From 1998 to 2005 he worked as a TV and print correspondent in the US, and since 2008, in Berlin. His production company Tvbmedia Productions, founded in the USA in 2001, has created numerous films, videos, reports and magazine features for private and public broadcasters.
In addition to the standard repertoire for her instrument, the pianist Kyra Steckeweh has been working for several years on the little-known music of female composers. She recorded piano works by the women composers presented here on two Albums in 2016 and 2018, including recording Emilie Mayer’s Sonata in D minor for the first time.

She studied piano and instrumental pedagogy with Tomoko Ogasawara at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, as well as at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg with Prof. George Kern. In 2011 she completed her studies in Freiburg with a diploma. In 2009/2010, she completed her studies in school music and history at the Freiburg University of Music and the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg with the First State Examination. Since the summer semester of 2018, she has been a lecturer at the Freiburg University of Music, where she deals with music editing practice for the historical-critical publication of the works of female composers. Kyra Steckeweh lives in Leipzig.

In Germany and France, women and men have been on an equal footing for about 70 years – on paper. However, this notion of equality is not reflected in the concert canon of the so-called “serious“ music. The oeuvre of the great male composers is held in such high esteem that women composers appear as marginal notes at most.

When I realised that my repertoire almost exclusively consisted of music composed by men, I began searching for pieces written by female composers. My research in archives, libraries, and publishing houses quickly brought to light a variety of remarkable piano pieces that have been buried in history and rarely performed.

I do see a lot of catching up to do, which is why the focus of my piano recitals has since shifted to the music of women composers.

In addition to the in-depth examination of the music, as a historian, I seeked to look “behind the notes“: How did these women live? What barriers did they have to overcome and how did they manage to cope with the obstacles of their time?

That gave the initial impetus for the film “Women Composers“. Together with Berlin filmmaker Tim van Beveren, we commenced a quest for information, which led us to France, Italy, Poland, and Germany. During our expert interviews, we managed to not only elicit noteworthy aspects of the composers’ lives and works but also discussed to which extent the legacy of the composers has been preserved and why their music is performed so rarely.
The reasons that made it difficult for women composers of the past to thrive in their profession are apparent: Women were not considered equal to men, neither legally nor socially, and attracted public attention only in exceptional cases.

All the more astonishing is the strong will of women like Mel Bonis, Lili Boulanger, Fanny Hensel, and Emilie Mayer to enforce their musical influence and to compose and disseminate their work even under the most challenging circumstances.

One can certainly say that, although these women’s lives were quite different from one another, all of them were privileged in their own ways.

3rd Alive Doc International Film Festival, USA
17th Great Lakes International Film Festival, USA
12th Vox Feminae Film Festival, Croatia
40th Biberach Film Festival, Germany
10th Annual World Music and Independent Film Festival, USA
2019 Near Nazareth Film Festival
2019 New York Movie Awards

Best Documentary Made By Or About Women – 3rd Alive Doc International Film Festival, USA
Best Documentary – 10th World Music and Independent Film Festival, USA
Best Documentary New York Movie Awards 2019