I don't know about you guys, but I love classical music. I love it passionately and without shame; it's nearly always guaranteed to bring me joy, no matter how down I feel. I listen to it a lot at work, since it's all instrumental, and I don't end up distracted by lyrics. I've whipped through the big famous guys (Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, etc) and there are things I absolutely love by them, but my tastes quickly turned to the more obscure. I absolutely fucking adore Carl Nielsen, a Danish composer from the early 20th century.
But lately I've been making a real effort to listen to classical work composed by women. As it turns out there were a huge number of them, many in the Romantic era (by far my favourite era), so I'm often in luck. Today I discovered Ethel Smyth. And Ethel Smyth is one incredible lesbian shitass, lemme tell you.
Here is a woman whose Major-General father did NOT want her to go into music. She said "fuck you, I'm going anyway", attended the Leipzig Conservatory, decided the standards weren't high enough for her, and left. She wrote a bunch of seriously gorgeous music, went deaf, stopped composing, and became an author instead. She had several books published during her lifetime.
In 1910, Smyth became a suffragette and wrote "March of the Women", which became a somewhat official anthem for the movement. She served two months in prison for breaking the windows of anti-suffrage politicians, and while in jail she rallied her fellow ladies into singing the March while she conducted them with a toothbrush. Smyth was also bisexual, and fell in love with both Emmeline Pankhurst and Virginia Woolf.
This woman is my new heroine. She's fantastic and you should all go listen to her Serenade in D Major.