Shifting the Spotlight is a CMIYA blog series that seeks to highlight influential composers beyond the traditional canon of classical music.
Elizabeth Gyring was born in Vienna, the “City of Music” and later moved on to become an accomplished composer in America. Gyring lived during a difficult time in history, World War II, which affected and defined her music.
Gyring came from a deep musical background. Her father was a musician and conductor of one of the most prestigious orchestras of Europe, and she graduated with distinction from the State Academy of Music in Vienna. She also had the support and encouragement of one of Vienna’s most renowned musicians, the composer Alban Berg.
Despite all the support she had, her life was not easy. The prime of her life was marred with escaping Nazi racial and political persecution. She emigrated to America with her husband, Otto Geiringer, without knowing any English or having any money. Gyring herself, unfortunately, faced gender discriminationas a female composer, which did not make her path to success any easier. However, she worked hard through these obstacles and eventually asserted a name for herself as an American artist.
Her music had a Late Romantic style to it. She has over 160 works, with pieces in nearly every traditional instrumentation, including a full-length opera, 2 symphonies, a few string quartets, and multiple chamber works for different ensembles, just to name a couple of examples. Her music was featured well throughout New York and Philadelphia and included many public and radio performances. One of her greatest accomplishments was her concert premieres performed by renowned musicians of the Viennaand Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. But other than these few years of fame, her compositions were, for the most part, neglected.
By the end of her life in 1970, Gyring was a productive American composer. She faced many tough experiences throughout her life but with hard work and dedication, reached impressive levels of success. With the recent rediscoveries of many historical female composers, her music will hopefully soon receive the recognition it deserves.