Iowa Stories Program

Marvin Bergman's picture

Please join us at noon on Thursday, March 14, when Professor Marian Wilson Kimber will make a presentation about “Musical Iowana: Iowa Women’s Clubs and the Promotion of Iowa Composers” at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City. This Iowa Stories program is free and open to the public.


For its 1926-27 season, the Philharmonic Society of Tama programmed 81 pieces by 12 Iowa composers.  The ambitious offerings of this music club were not unique; over 140 other women’s clubs in 90 towns hosted Iowa composers events, mainly in the 1920s through the 1940s. Drawing on correspondence, club programs, and newspaper reports, this talk explores Iowa composers and the ways in which clubwomen desired to help them create a distinctive musical identity for their state.


Influenced by the national women’s club movement, the Iowa Federation of Music Clubs and the music division of the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs circulated musical scores widely. In the 1920s, club leaders such as Perle Schmidt of Ames publicized lists of composers and memorialized famous former residents, including Czech composer Antonín Dvořák.  Women’s engagement with Iowa’s composers peaked in the 1930s with performances at the State Fair, radio broadcasts, and the publication of a book, Musical Iowana, documenting the state’s musical history.  Due to the efforts of Iowa’s clubwomen, the state’s classical music was far better known decades ago than it is today.


Marian Wilson Kimber is Professor of Musicology at the University of Iowa. She is the author of numerous publications about women in American music, including the book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017).


Seating is limited. For more information call (319) 335-3911.