‘An important book’, says BBC Music

16th March 2024 | Books, Reviews | 2 comments

BBC Music magazine review of my bookThe April 2024 issue of BBC Music magazine carries a short but sweet review of my book Women and the Piano. As the text is too indistinct to read in the photo, this is what it says:

‘Revealed within the pages of this elegantly written book by pianist and author Susan Tomes are the lives of 50 female pianists, from Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy (nicknamed ‘La Brillante’) in the 18th Century to Nina Simone in the 20th.

‘In between, dozens of achievements and anecdotes emerge in deft biographies. To give a flavour, here are a handful: Wanda Landowska, who refused to leave a Scarlatti sonata unfinished when she was recording as the Nazis entered Paris; Zhu Xiao-Mei, who copied out Bach’s Goldberg Variations while in a Chinese ‘re-education camp’ during the Cultural Revolution; Sara Levy, great-aunt of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, and one of the many women in that family who kept the music of Bach alive; Philippa Schuyler, whose eccentric parents used her to experiment with their theories about education, nutrition and genetics; and Hélène de Montgeroult, whose near miss with the guillotine during the French Revolution is Hollywood-worthy.

‘Just as valuable as Tomes’s judicious selection is her fresh look at the situation now for professional women pianists. Sadly, sexism, ageism and racism have not been consigned to the past. An important book.’


  1. Piotr

    Super! I haven’t received my copy yet… I enjoyed your interview on Music Matters. The points you make about the current situation for women musicians are worryingly important

  2. Mary Cohen

    Yes! I enjoyed the interview on Music matters too. Love the idea that it is a real page turner.


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Read reviews of my new book

Read reviews of my new book

Last night I gave a talk about Women and the Piano at the gorgeous Toppings Bookshop in Edinburgh. (Photo of me signing books before...

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