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from the International Congress on Women in Music


Introduction to Source Readings from the International Congress on Women in Music, edited by Jeannie Gayle Pool and Beverly Simmons. Foreword by Stephen M. Fry.

"Often, I admonish my older friends not to live in the past, but essentially, I have done exactly that during the last six months in the preparation of this reference book, including its index. Current online publishing does not require the kind of pain-staking indexing done for this book however, keyword searches would not reveal the most valuable information found in this book. I encourage readers to browse the index as a way of discovering the breadth and strength of the women-in-music movement in the 1980s.


This volume is a companion to my book, Passions of Musical Women: The Story of the International Congress on Women in Music, published by in March 2009, which describes in detail the early years of the ICWM. Here are facsimile reproductions of important primary sources on the Congress, including program booklets, brochures, flyers, and newsletters. A second edition is being published simultaneously with this volume.

Nearly forty years ago, the ICWM was organized to advocate equal opportunities for women in music. I spearheaded the movement and received the support and assistance of many committed women and men.


I began in 1978 to organize the National Congress on Women in Music (later to become the International Congress), in an effort to forge an alliance among scholars, composers, performers, and producers. I hoped to develop and solidify wider international contacts, both within and outside academia.


Cover design: Beverly Simmons, ffortissimo Design.

As its first event, in March 1980, the Congress presented a one-day conference on twentieth-century string quartets by women composers. With the assistance of colleagues, I organized international Congresses in New York City (1981), Los Angeles (1982), Mexico (1984), and, with Denise Laroutis, Paris (1984).

Many world premiere performances and revival performances were given at the Congresses, including orchestral works, operas, choral pieces, cantatas, chamber music, and electronic, computer, and mixed-media works. The Congresses also provided a forum for pioneering new scholarship, and numerous composers, scholars, and performers received their first or most important "break" through our efforts. To mark the tenth anniversary, I organized a Congress in New York City in 1990, at which time the International Congress on Women in Music merged with the International League of Women Composers. In 1995, American Women Composers, Inc., joined our alliance, to create the International Alliance for Women in Music (, now the leading international organization for women in music.

These Congresses were unique, not only because they involved professionals and amateurs, students young and old, women and men of diverse ethnic and racial groups, but also because the guiding principle was to present the scholarship with performances-not just a music festival or a scholarly conference, but a fully-integrated experience.

Several women-in-music organizations and projects were involved, and the Congresses enlisted the support and participation of music organizations outside the women-in-music movement, including academic institutions, performing ensembles, and composers' groups. In an attempt to break down the barriers that prevented effective advocacy and change for all women in music, the Congresses combined music of historic significance with contemporary music. They were organized with very little funding; I was not paid in my capacity as Director and Producer, nor did I have an academic position with release time to devote to this work. With volunteers making up the organizing committee, these events were funded with membership dues, registration fees, donations from individuals, grants, and the in-kind support of institutions. I produced additional Congresses not covered in this volume, for example, the Sixth International Congress in 1990 in New York City and the Tenth International Congress in 1997 at California Institute of the Arts. I assisted with the planning of additional Congresses held in the United States, Europe, and China. The IAWM continues to present the International Congress on Women in Music—the most recent one took place at Berklee College of Music in Boston in June 2019.

Most performances at the Congresses were recorded and have been archived; some have been presented on National Public Radio, Voice of America, and Pacifica Radio. Some videotapes have been made, creating substantial additional resources for the study of women's music. The Second Congress led to the establishment of the International Institute for the Study of Women in Music at California State University, Northridge. It is now a major repository of research materials, housed in Special Collections in the University's main library.

The International Congress on Women in Music Newsletter was published between 1983 and 1989. Few institutions in the United States have a complete run of the publication. As far as I am aware, however, it was not thoroughly indexed, so I have compiled an index to make this volume a user-friendly resource. I accept all responsibility related to any omissions or inadequacies.


I have not attempted to clean up or conform the graphics, but to provide facsimiles. Most of these publications and programs were produced in the days of IBM Selectric typewriters or early versions of computerized word processing and graphics systems. So be it. The value of giving easy access to these primary sources outweighs any desire to clean up the image.

 Many were finalized on the eve of a Congress, may not have been carefully proofread. I have provided an Errata page as an effort to clarify some issues. Also, this volume contains a Necrology—a list of the many people who have died since their involvement with the ICWM. This book in many ways is a tribute to them and intends to honor their memory.

It is my intention that all the documents related to the history of International Congress on Women in Music will be donated to New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, to supplement the Congress Archive started there by librarian Jean Bowen. It will include all the correspondence, minutes of official meetings, financial reports, biographical materials, scores, posters, photographs, and various other publications related to the story of the ICWM, including the program booklets for regional conferences and festivals presented as part of the ICWM during the period 1980-1990."

Jeannie Gayle Pool, Ph.D., 2019

The book including the program booklets from the following International Congresses on Women in Music: The First National Congress on Women in Music held March 26-29, 1981, sponsored by New York University, and held in five locations in New York City; The Second International Congress on Women in Music held April 1-4, 1982, sponsored by the University of Southern California School of Music (Dr. William E. Thomson, Director) and the Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society (Dr. Joelle Juilliard, Director) in Los Angeles; The Third International Congress on Women in Music held March 22-25, 1984 in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, sponsored by the Mexican National Institute of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) and the Mayor of the City of Fresnillo, Zacatecas, with the Organization of American States. Focus on Latin American women musicians; The Paris Congress, held in October 1984, in various locations in Paris, France, produced by Denise Laroutis.

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