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Tag: women composers (Page 1 of 3)

A Collection in Bloom

Marti Epstein (1959-) is an American composer, pianist, and professor originally from Denver, Colorado and a resident of Boston, Massachusetts for most of her professional career. The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library has acquired much of Epstein’s compositions and correspondences, partnering with Epstein to share and preserve her work. 

Portrait of the composer Marti Epstein, who is wearing glasses and smiling.

Portrait of Marti Epstein (Career Girls web site)

Epstein earned her Bachelor of Music in Composition at the University of Colorado (1982) and obtained her Master of Music in Composition (1984) and her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition from Boston University (1989). In addition to instructing students in composition at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory, she composes between three and five pieces a year, usually on commission. Her composition work is often for musical ensembles, including many based in New England and reaching international patrons.

This collection contains 39 scores by Epstein, many of which were completed as commissions, such as Waterbowls, composed in 1989 for Kathleen Supové and commissioned by the New England Chapter of the Music Teachers National Association. 

In addition, included in the collection are Epstein’s youthful works, pieces she composed during her studies. After her high school band teacher suggested she become a composer, she began taking lessons from Professor Robert Beadell at the University of Nebraska. 

Composer's manuscript score.

Marti Epstein, Cereal music. Ms. Coll. 181, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

Composer's manuscript score.

Marti Epstein, Viennese waltz. Ms. Coll. 181, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

Epstein describes her music as “unrealistic,” and many of her compositions are handwritten on large sheets of music.

Bloom, one of these pieces, is a 2009 composition commissioned for Robert Sheena and the Boston Conservatory Wind Ensemble. Prominently featuring English horn, other instruments in the piece include piano, harp, marimba, glockenspiel, vibraphone, and xylophone. The piece is separated into 10 sections, with English horn either at the forefront of the section or supporting other instruments; fast rolled chords throughout the piece represent water. 

Composer's manuscript score.

Marti Epstein, Bloom. Ms. Coll. 181, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library.

The Marti Epstein collection of scores and recordings: approximately 1977- is now available to be scanned or viewed by appointment. To access, click on Request to Copy or Visit in HOLLIS. This collection was processed by Émilie Blondin and Christina Linklater. 

Contributed by Émilie Blondin, Class of 2025, with quotations and information from Career Girls website , Marti Epstein’s website and Wikipedia.

“Snowflakes” by Mary Mapes Dodge (not Anonymous)

It’s the season for snow in New England and there is no better time to highlight another new acquisition – a lighthearted song about snowflakes. “Whene’er a Snowflake Leaves the Sky” was composed by Liza Lehmann (1862-1918), a soprano and composer, mostly of vocal works, including many for children. She was the first president of the Society of Women Musicians.

Sheet music cover attributing the words to anonymous.

Lehmann, Liza, and Mary Mapes Dodge. 1918. Whene’er a Snowflake Leaves the Sky: Song. London: J.B. Cramer & Co. Ltd. Merritt Room Mus 735.6.713

The piece, also known as the “Snowflakes Song”, was included in a publication Three Snow Songs in 1914, with music and lyrics credited to Lehmann as indicated in the Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical Compositions. Part 3. The Harvard Library copy was published in 1918, with the music attributed to Liza Lehmann; however, the lyrics are attributed to Anonymous. The lyrics are not unknown as this printing suggests, and as such the rest of this post will be dedicated to recognizing the poem and its author.

Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), in full Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge, was an American author of children’s books and first editor of the children’s publication St. Nicholas Magazine.

Cabinet photograph of Mary Mapes Dodge.

Warren, Warren. 1875. Mary Mapes Dodge. Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard College Library. Object Number 119.1976.5179

The poem features an individual snowflake as it travels bravely from the sky to its landing place until it melts away in warmer weather. For added entertainment, read the poem below while listening to a performance by soprano Gwen Catley.


Whenever a snowflake leaves the sky

It turns and turns to say “good-bye;”

“Good-bye, dear cloud, so cool and gray!”

Then lightly travels on its way.

And when a snowflake finds a tree,

“Good-day,” it says —“Good-day to thee!

Thou art so bare and lonely, dear,

I’ll rest and call my comrades here.”

But when a snowflake brave and meek,

Lights on a rosy maiden’s cheek,

It starts— “How warm and soft the day!

‘Tis Summer!”— and it melts away.


The poem was published in the 1879 book Along the Way, a publication that included poems published for the first time and several that previously appeared in various magazines. “Snowflakes” was again printed in When Life is Young: A Collection of Verse for Boys and Girls in 1894. The poem also appeared in Mary Mapes Dodge’s final published book of poetry, Poems and Verses in 1904, which includes the following author’s note, “This book is, in the main, a republication of a former volume of verse entitled ‘Along the Way’, which is now out of print.”

The popularity of the poem is indicated by its use in other poetry compilations, including American Anthology, 1787-1899: Selections Illustrating the Editor’s Critical Review of American Poetry in the 19th Century and The World’s Best Poetry Volume 5: The Poetry of Nature.

For additional information about Mary Mapes Dodge see Gannon, Susan R., and Ruth Anne Thompson. Mary Mapes Dodge. Twayne, 1992.

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