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Women composers erased from music history

A multimedia installation
Featuring a sound installation and an audiovisual documentary series 

by sound artist Léa Chevrier and director Laureline Amanieux.

Based on an original idea by Léa Chevrier.
Co-produced by NARRATIVE



Bach, Mozart, Beethoven... we can all name classical music composers. But how many female composers do we know? Have there been no female musical geniuses? How can we feel legitimate today, as women, when we only know the names of men? How can we exist as female composers when the history of music lies by omission about female creation?

DECOMPOSE / RECOMPOSE is a multimedia installation (sound and audiovisual documentary) that questions the invisibilization of women composers, offering visitors the chance to reappropriate a different kind of music history. The installation introduces us to major but forgotten European women composers, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.



A multimedia installation 

with a sound installation and an audiovisual series



An audiovisual documentary series in 8 episodes of around 5 minutes each

Broadcast within the installation and on the web



Wooden music stands, traces of a ghost orchestra, silently welcome us. They display scores, period letters to female composers and current texts by sociologists and musicologists on the invisibilization of female composers. These elements are printed directly onto the wood of the music stands.


Gradually, voices begin to emerge from the music stands: breathing sounds, syllables, snatches of melody. These songs are constantly interrupted by the sound of paper being torn, then by the sound of flames, silencing them once again.


On the walls, screens simultaneously broadcast slow-motion images of sheet music being torn, crumpled, thrown away and then burned. After this phase of destruction, the voices begin to rise from their ashes. Snippets of music gradually make themselves heard in spatialized form until they are fully deployed: the music of the female composers gradually comes back to us. 

Then, the faces of the female composers begin to appear on the screens like ghosts suddenly taking on flesh before our very eyes. The drawing gradually materializes, the lines appearing, as if under the action of an invisible brush or pencil. By standing in front of one of the screens, visitors trigger an episode of the audiovisual documentary series; the sound is diffused by sound showers, so as not to disturb other visitors.


To create this spatialized soundtrack, professional artists (notably from the Accentus and Arts florissants ensembles), amateurs, Conservatory students and teachers are invited to come and sing vocal music scores written by women, in particular in the various locations hosting the installation. The idea is to mix lyrical voices (soprano, tenor...) with contemporary voices, so that everyone can sing a tune after their visit. Several dozen pieces by a variety of female composers, from different eras, nationalities and languages... are recorded and mixed together. They belong to the repertoire of Western art music from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, from Béatrice de Die to Nadia or Lili Boulanger, via Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Mel Bonis, Sophie Gail, Pauline Viardot, Amy Beach...

These recordings are then cut up, decomposed and recomposed into an electroacoustic work that blends the voices with sound design. Software (Reaper) is used to generate this sound creation from the music and voices collected. Although always identical in terms of content, the installation takes on a different form in each venue, depending on the music and voices recorded on site. The strength of the work lies in its collective, collaborative dimension.

A sound teaser is available here or for listening at the bottom of this page. 




This series of short films (8 x 5-minute episodes) recounts highlights in the life and work of : Hildegard Von Bingen - A visionary of genius (Middle Ages), Francesca Caccini - At the cutting edge of innovation (16th century), Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre - The child prodigy (17th century), Marianna Von Martinez - A European star (18th century), Sophie Gail - Fiercely independent (18th century), Louise Farrenc - Fighting for equality (19th century), Alma Mahler - Stifled ambition (early 20th century) and Ethel Smyth - Rebellious feminist (early 20th century).


These are 8 "forgotten" female composers who lived in Germany, Italy, France, Austria and England. However, these films are not separate portraits, as they all question the mechanisms that led to the erasure of these women in different eras, until their rediscovery. 

Shot in prestigious locations that have marked the history of music (for example, the Centre de Musique Baroque à Versailles and the Opéra Comique), and incorporating archival collages with colorful lettering and a pop aesthetic, these audiovisual portraits interview historians, musicologists and artists, highlighting the musical innovations and inherited works of these women, while dissecting the reasons for their invisibilization.

Our speakers to date include historian Catherine Cessac, author of a biography of Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Guillaume Kosmicki, author of Compositrices: l'histoire oubliée de la musique, and artist Maria Cristina Réchard, member of the Accentus ensemble and author of a musical show about Sophie Gail. We'll also be meeting the committed historian Florence Launay, and a series of other specialists we're currently contacting. 

This audiovisual series will reinstate these female composers in their boldness and modernity. It will be dynamic, rhythmic, educational and accessible to all. 




We are fortunate to be able to count on a number of partners in the Brittany and Ile-de-France regions: the Jardin Moderne (a music establishment in Rennes), the ONB (Orchestre National de Bretagne), CanalB (an association radio station in Rennes), Logelloù (a center for artistic creation in the Côtes d'Armor region, which will be hosting a residency for Léa Chevrier in March 2023), the Conservatoire de musique de Rennes, and the Conservatoire de musique Nadia et Lili Boulanger in Paris to work with students and teachers.


We are currently exchanging ideas with the Opéra comique de Paris, public partners (communications support, provision of archives and emblematic filming locations), and venues for the multimedia installation (cultural centers and heritage sites).  


The film series will be integrated into the installation, but will also be broadcast as a webseries on an audiovisual platform. To date, the KUB platform has agreed to be our first broadcaster, via its website and social networks. 

The aim is to break down our representations of the history of written music, our preconceived ideas and our collective memory, so as to recompose them differently, by integrating the works and lives of these women over the centuries. Moving from the least audible to the most complete listening, from the invisible to the visible: that's the challenge of this sound and documentary installation, which combines an artistic experience with an artistic one.

Contact us ( if you would like to take part in this project or become a partner!

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