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Starting Over

Ethel Smyth's career after 1912: with further performances of her operas, and two major new works, the Prison and Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra.

Accounts of Dame Ethel Smyth cast her as a doughty figure, unafraid to flout convention. Born into an upper class Victorian family, the fact that Smyth wanted a professional career in music is exceptional in itself. Two major choral works, several orchestral works, six operas and a significant body of chamber music, attest to her seriousness of purpose as a composer. However, the sheer gusto and number of other activities the ebullient Smyth pursued have tended to obscure her artistic reception. A keen traveller, she was a successful author, producing nine largely autobiographical books. A life-long champion of women's rights, among the causes she supported was Mrs. Pankhurst's "right to vote" campaign. Her competitive nature found a perfect partner in sport; she was often to be found riding to hounds, playing tennis matches or striding over the golf course. As one rather bemused contemporary musician remarked when he met her, she is "the most remarkable and original woman composer in the history of music".

Today, Donald Macleod explores Ethel Smyth's career following her resumption of music in 1912. By this time Smyth's hearing was failing, yet despite this obstacle, an originality shines through the Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra. She also had the joy of seeing many more performances of her operas in Germany and in the UK.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Fri 20 Feb 2015 18:30

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