After Robert Ward left The Eastman School of Music in the 1930’s, he went on to study with Aaron Copland. Ward crafted a musical language that would earn him a 1962 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his opera The Crucible, based on Arthur Miller’s iconic play. (Ward’s son says he remembers finding his parents unexpectedly drinking champagne in the kitchen; that’s how he found out his father had won a Pulitzer.)
A few years ago, pianist and professor Sylvie Beaudette conducted an experiment.
In her music history class at Eastman, she played pieces by male and female composers from each major era side by side without revealing the composers' gender. She paired an opera excerpt by Monteverdi with a cantata excerpt by Francesca Caccini. She compared music of Couperin (a man) with that of Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (a woman). She contrasted a German lied by Robert Schumann with Josephine Lang's, and she paired chamber music by Ernest Bloch with a piece by Rebecca Clarke.