Glass ceilings and nylon strings: Reflections on Australian women’s contribution to classical guitar repertoire

Author Identifiers

Abbey Lee Bradstreet
ORCID: 0000-0002-6907-8928

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music (Honours)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Helen Rusak

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Jonathan Paget


This dissertation analyses solo classical guitar works by four contemporary Australian women composers, considering the context that informed the works’ creation and the composer’s respective aesthetic. The works explored are Portraits of Four Australian Women by Mary Doumany, Tangible by Kate Moore, Four Leunig Pieces by Maria Grenfell, and Divulsion by Nicole Murphy. There has been some research into classical guitar works composed by non-guitarist Australian men, such as Peter Sculthorpe and Nigel Westlake, but little academic writing has analysed the guitar works of Australian women. While attempts have been made at addressing the lack of awareness of women’s works, systemic problems and bias still bar women from equal representation and involvement at all levels. This thesis has employed various tools of musical analysis, including set class theory, motivic and thematic analysis, and harmonic analysis. By highlighting a small selection of classical guitar works by Australian women, it is hoped that there will be greater momentum for further interest in these works, in academia and on the concert stage.

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