The best of Smyth

BBC Music Magazine - - Dame Ethel Smyth -

Five un­miss­able works

Ser­e­nade in D (1890)

Writ­ten af­ter she re­turned to Eng­land from Ger­many, this strik­ing four-move­ment or­ches­tral Ser­e­nade is in­flu­enced by Brahms. Pre­miered at the Crys­tal Palace, the work brought Smyth pub­lic suc­cess.

Mass in D (1893)

This sub­stan­tial six-part Mass was pre­miered at the Royal Al­bert Hall and was, Ge­orge Bernard Shaw came to be­lieve, ‘mag­nif­i­cent’.

Yet af­ter writ­ing it, Smyth lost her re­li­gious (High Angli­can) faith.

The Wreck­ers (1902)

Thomas Beecham con­ducted the English premiere of Smyth’s salty Cor­nish opera in 1909, af­ter the opera’s ear­lier tur­bu­lent start in Leipzig. It went on to be staged at Covent Gar­den in 1910.

The Boatswain’s Mate (1914)

This comic two-ac­ter was Smyth’s most suc­cess­ful opera in her life­time. The sparkling score fea­tures the tune that be­came The March of the Women.

Con­certo for vi­o­lin and horn (1928)

By the time Smyth penned this con­certo, she was deal­ing with deaf­ness. The craggy open­ing move­ment leads to a lyri­cal El­egy and a danc­ing fi­nale.

Dogged spirit: Smyth and ca­nine chum

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