This page contains supporting material for my presentation at the Royal Musical Association’s annual conference at Bristol University on 13-15 September 2018.

Official RMA Conference website

Statistics as a tool in researching women composer populations

Abstract: Despite much excellent qualitative research on individuals, we know relatively little about women composers as a population. This paper will examine the methodological issues involved in attempting to quantify the population of women composers and their works, with the aim of testing some common assumptions about how they compare to their male counterparts. Examples will be presented of what can be discovered from an analysis of the available data (including composer databases, library and publishing catalogues, and lists and repositories of works), and how it can be presented and interpreted. Further methodological development and research topics will also be discussed.

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Details of the sources…


Response to comments and questions…

Further reading…

Cite this article as: Gustar, A.J. 'RMA18' in Statistics in Historical Musicology, 14th September 2018, https://musichistorystats.com/rma18/.



  1. A fascinating paper – most interesting. I wondered why British and US figures were higher than European in the 18th-19th centuries – for the UK, because of our Stationers’ Hall registration/legal deposit system and consequent library documentation?
    Very glad to have attended this session.

    1. Thanks Karen. That’s a good question.
      I think the reasons behind one country having a higher proportion of female composers than another are probably rather complex – to do with general cultural and socio-economic factors as well as musical and legal ones. For Britain in the 19C, for example, versus continental Europe, there are factors such as Britain’s wealth and international outlook, its relative levels of peace and stability, a predominantly protestant rather than catholic religious culture, the role of women in the home and workplace, different levels of education, a different class system (there were lots of well educated young ladies in Britain who were trained in music, for example), and all sorts of other factors. Our legal deposit system certainly helped otherwise obscure works and composers to survive, although I doubt that this would have had a hugely disproportionate effect on women’s works compared to men. My previous work analysing Hofmeister’s Monatsberichte also showed Britain to have a higher proportion of women composers compared to most of Europe (at least in the 19C German sheet music market), and this data would certainly not be affected by the legal deposit system.
      This would be a good research project for somebody!

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