A classroom of one’s own

Nuppu Koivisto-Kaasik explores women piano teachers, intersectionality, and the gendered power structures of musical life in Helsinki and Tallinn between 1861 and 1924.

Two women in front of a piano in a black and white picture which is taken in 1924.

Introduction

This project explores women piano teachers in Helsinki and Tallinn from 1861 to 1924. Although hundreds of influential women piano pedagogues worked in these multilingual towns, they have remained in the margins of historiography. By analysing the teachers’ social status and the discrimination they faced, this study challenges male-oriented, gendered canons in music history.

Instead of focusing on bilateral cultural relations between Finland and Estonia, the project considers the two towns in the larger geocultural contexts of the Gulf of Finland area and the Russian Empire. Thus, the project deconstructs nationalist and imperialist myths in music historiography.

Furthermore, the project creates a new intersectional approach for the study of women’s work in music based on historical sociology, feminist musicology, and new imperial histories. Not only will this theoretical initiative be of use for historians – it can also be applied to the study of (gender) inequalities in musical life today.

This postdoctoral project is funded by the Academy of Finland (2022–2025).

Contact information for the project

    • Nuppu Koivisto

    • Visiting researcher, Historiafoorumi, Research hub

Project name

A classroom of one’s own: women piano teachers, intersectionality, and the gendered power structures of musical life in Helsinki and Tallinn, 1861–1924

Time

09/2022-08/2025

Funder

Academy of Finland