I have been a musician since an early age and became a scholar of music when, after a 20-year career as a US Air Force nurse, I returned to school to study music academically with focus on musicology, applied organ, and church music.
I was drawn to the role of women musicians on the organ bench in Victorian and Edwardian England; Elizabeth Stirling and the Musical Life of Female Organists in Nineteenth-Century England is a product of that research. I was invited to write about women organists as a guest author for Organists’ Review in 2020. The article, “Can anyone tell us where the lady organist is to be found?’ On the Bench in Nineteenth-Century England” appears in the March 2020 issue, 16–21 and features organists Elizabeth Stirling (1819–1895) and Emily Edroff (1867–1953).
Under “Friends of this issue,” the journal’s editor writes: “The subject of female organists has been much-discussed recently. Judith Barger lets us know that it’s not a new discussion.”
A search for illustrations of lady organists of the time period led me to The Girl’s Own Paper and an interest in how that magazine promoted music-making among its readers. Music in The Girl’s Own Paper: An Annotated Catalogue, 1880 – 1910 details that coverage.
“At the Organ.” (Lutterworth Press)
I have presented papers about these women musicians at Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain conferences held in the UK. My more recent research focuses on the role of the nurse character in opera.
The book received a Runner-up Prize for Reference Work, as one of the Pauline Alderman Awards for Outstanding Scholarship on Women in Music for 2017, by The International Alliance for Women in Music.