Of Nature
composer: Nancy Galbraith (2003)
genre: double reed quartet: 2 ob, 2 bn
length: 4 ½ movements, 14:00 minutes
publisher: Subito Music Publishing (ASCAP)
60 Depot Street, Verona, NJ 07044
mail@subitomusic.com • 973-857-3440
world premiere: 18 June 2003
University of Texas Double Reed Quartet:
Rebecca Henderson, Susan Hatch – oboes
Kristen Wolfe Jensen, Rebekah Heller – bassoons
32nd International Double Reed Society Conference
Greensboro, North Carolina
audio samples: 1. The Debutante Canon
  2. Separate Spheres
  ½. (interlude)
  3. Discordant Machine
  4. Fugal Effort
recordings: Gobo: Commissions and Premieres for the Oboe
Longhorn Music • 2012 • LHM2010002
Rebecca Henderson, oboe; and others
program notes: "Of Nature" was commissioned by Kristen Wolfe Jensen and Rebecca Henderson, bassoon and oboe professors at the University of Texas at Austin School of Music. It is a satirical piece that looks back on attitudes towards female musicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The music features brief recitations of texts from two sources: a quote by conductor Gustave Kerker (circa 1900); and an essay by journalist George Putnam Upton, "Women in Music" (1890).
Kerker's quote:

"Nature never intended the fair sex to become players of wind instruments. In the first place they are not strong enough to play them as well as men, they lack the lip and lung power to hold notes, which deficiency makes them always play out of tune... Another point against them is that women cannot possibly play wind instruments and look pretty, and why should they spoil their good looks?"

Upton's texts:

"Woman, lovely woman, is always to be admired, except when she is playing in an orchestra. She is certainly not in her sphere, and any leader will find this out after he has had a few quarrels and instances of feminine disagreements."

"Woman, emotional by temperament, cannot outwardly express herself through music."

"One discordant musician might not be noticed in an orchestra, but if you have several women members, the playing verges on the excruciating."

"Great actresses who have never been great dramatists may express emotions because they express their own natures; but to treat emotions as if they were mathematics, to bind and measure and limit them within the rigid laws of harmony and counterpoint is a cold-blooded operation, possible only to the sterner and more obdurate nature of man."