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TROUBADISC composers

Dame Ethel Mary Smyth


"…She was one of the most remarkable people of her time, among men or women, and there are many of us alive today who cherish her memory, and we do so with admiration, respect, and a great deal of love.”   Thomas Beecham

The English composer was born in London/Marylebone on 23 April 1858, the fourth of eight children of John H. Smyth, a major-general in the Royal Artillery, and his wife Nina, née Struth. Ethel received her first piano lessons at the age of nine. After years of violent opposition by her father, Ethel Smyth began to study composition in Germany under 
C.  Reinecke and S. Jadassohn at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1877. One year later she became a private student of H. von Herzogenberg.

Her early piano and chamber-music pieces date from her time in Leipzig, as do the songs and ballads, op. 3 and op. 4, which were first recorded by Troubadisc. Among her many orchestral pieces and operas, the most famous are the Mass in D and the opera “The Wreckers".

Between 1902 and 1912 she composed her String Quartet in E-minor. “This quartet is composed in the classical mode, but with its extended harmonies, superimpositions in fourth and whole tone motifs, as well as echoes of a kinetic energy in the style of Bartók in the finale, it certainly displays modern elements, too.”

Other important works by the composer are her Four Songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Chamber-music Ensemble from 1907 and the Double Concerto in A for violin, horn and orchestra. “The Prison” was composed in 1930.

For two years, Ethel Smyth devoted her energy to the Suffragette Movement in Britain. Through her own literary works (she wrote ten autobiographical books), she became a close friend of the author Virginia Woolf.

In 1910 the University of Durham awarded her an honorary degree as Doctor of Music. In 1922 King George V honored her with the title “Dame of the Order of the British Empire.” This was followed by two further honorary doctorates, one from the University of Oxford in 1926 and another from the University of St. Andrews in 1928.

Ethel Smyth died in Woking on 8 May 1844.

„...To appeal to the public at large, more is necessary than merely writing fine music. And if I ever dared to hope that without sacrifice of quality I should touch that chord some day,
it was the response of the musically innocent and untutored that nourished that hope. These understand only the simple and elementary – and that is what matters most.”
Ethel Smyth

book tips

Meinhard Saremba:
"Elgar, Britten & Co., Eine Geschichte der Britischen Musik in 12 Portraits"
Edition Musik und Theater, Zürich, 1994.

Ethel Smyth:
"The Memoirs of Ethel Smyth"
Ronald Crichton Harmondsworth (ed.), 1987.

Christopher St. John:
"Ethel Smyth"
London, 1959.

TRO-CD 01403 - 2-CD-Set - Chamber music  Vol.1 + Vol.2 - Fanny Mendelssohn Quartet - Céline Dutilly, Piano - 

22,00 €

Details, preview and order in the catalog

TRO-CD 01405 - Chamber music & Lieder Vol.3 - Melinda Paulsen, Angela Gassenhuber, Franz Draxinger, Céline Dutilly -

18,00 €

Details, preview and order in the catalog 

TRO-CD 01417 - Chamber music & Lieder Vol.4 - Maarten Koningsberger, Kelvin Grout, Friedemann Kupsa, Anna Silova -

18,00 €

 Details, preview and order in the catalog 

LAST Change: Friedemann Kupsa
(20.01.2018 - 21:44 Uhr)

CMS myty by ©2005 a belle artes project

Ethel Smyth, 1913







Ethel Smyth with Marco, 1891