Dame Ethel Smyth music manuscripts
Introduction
Biographical history
Content
Related material (elsewhere)
Bibliography

Catalogue

Reference code: GB-0033-SMY
Title: Dame Ethel Smyth music manuscripts
Dates of creation: Composed probably between 1860-1890
Extent: 1 box
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Origination: Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)
Language: English

Biographical history

Ethel Mary Smyth (1858-1944) was one of the more notable figures in English musical life during the earlier part of the twentieth century; as well as being probably the first Englishwoman to achieve fame as a composer, she wrote several autobiographical books, was a supporter of the Women's Suffrage Movement (for whom she composed the March of the Women), and was generally recognised as a forceful personality.
Her wish to follow a musical career met with considerable family opposition, but she overcame this and began her full-time musical training by enrolling as a student at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1877. Soon afterwards she chose instead to take private tuition from Heinrich von Herzogenberg, and she spent much of her time on the continent during the following decade or so. Some of her early chamber music was publicly performed in Germany around this time, and her works began to be played in this country from 1890 onwards.
Her first major English success came with the performance of the Mass in D at the Albert Hall in January 1893, and she went on to compose several operas and choral works as well as smaller pieces. She received the honorary degree of DMus. from Durham University in 1910, and was created DBE in 1922.

Content

Autograph scores, with instrumental parts in some cases, of three early chamber works (String trio in D major, Piano trio in D minor, and String quartet in C minor) dating from Dame Ethel Smyth's Leipzig student period.

Accession details

Presented from the composer's estate.

Related material (elsewhere)

British Library, London Many of Dame Ethel Smyth's autograph manuscripts are now in the sequence BL Add. MSS. 45934-45950, 46857-46863 and 49196.

Bibliography

The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians, (ed. S. Sadie), (London, 1980) v.17, pp.425-6.
Ethel Smyth, a biography, St. John, Christopher (pseudonym, i.e. C. Marshall): London, (1959).
“Ethel Smyth's prentice work”, Dale, Kathleen, Music and Letters 30 (1949) pp.329-336.

Catalogue

Music
1   Between 1878 and 1884
String trio in D major for violin, viola and 'cello
Autograph copy, in ink, of full score.
Four movements, Allegro, Allegretto grazioso, Adagio, Allegro molto.
Enclosed within a brown paper wrapper bearing a 2d. English postage stamp, postmarked 4 - 4 -[18]88, and endorsed "Mr. Saunders 50 New Bond St. W. For Miss Smyth".
At head of first movement: 'Streich trio Hauptmanstr. 5 Smyth.
Dale suggests composed between 1861 and 1888 (Dale, p.330), but Marquardt in her edition narrows this to 1878-1884.
31 leaves (contemporary ink pagination, 1-62)
Size: 270 x 170 mm
Printed ed. B. Marquardt, 2008 (Furore Edition 10042, ISMN: M-50182-042-9). Preface available online at http://www.anima-inventrix-berlin.de/documents/vorwort.pdf.
2a   Dated at end Aug. 25th. [18]80
Piano trio in D minor, for Piano, violin and 'cello.
Autograph copy, in pencil, of full score.
Four movements, Allegro, [slow movement] Scherzo and trio, Allegro vivace.
The extensive alterations suggest that this is a working draft; the whole of the original p.4 and parts of p.6 and p.13 have been cancelled, and a different version pasted over.
26 leaves (contemporary pencil pagination 1-33, 33 [bis], 34-50) with front grey wrapper)
Size: 340 x 265 mm.
Note: This Trio received its first public performance on 30 August, 1985, in a concert by the Mirecourt Trio (Kenneth Goldsmith, violin; Terry King, cello; John Jensen, piano) in the Herrick Chapel of Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. The performance was based on this manuscript. A recording, presented by the Trio, is located with the ms as item 2d.
Printed: Roberton Publications (catalogue number 95499)
Recording: CDE 84286 Ethel Smyth, Impressions that Remain; Chagall Trio.
2b
Violin part
Autograph copy, in ink, incorporating alterations and corrections.
Included with this are 4 leaves (unpaginated, 2 wholly blank except for ruled staves) containing a section of a violin part from a chamber work, not apparently this one, ending F minor.
6 leaves (contemporary ink pagination [1]-12, 12 [bis], 13)
Size: 340 x 265 mm.
2c
'Cello part
Autograph copy, in ink, incorporating alterations and corrections.
8 leaves (contemporary ink pagination, [1]-15)
Size: 340 x 265 mm.
3a   Dated at end 27 April [18]81
String quartet in C minor
Autograph copy, in ink, of full score.
Four movements (with two different 2nd movements): Allegro, Andante (based on the hymn tune “Horbury” by J.B. Dykes) cancelled and replaced by Adagio, Scherzo and trio, Allegro.
At head of first movement: "Ethel Smyth Salomonstr 19 Leipzig".
The extensive alterations suggest that this is a working draft.
The bottom portion of the final leaf, below the end of the score, is lacking. The original version of the final page of the Andante is pasted over with a later version, itself subsequently cancelled with the rest of the movement).
The third movement of this quartet is now in the Ethel Smyth ms collection at the British Library, Add. MS. 46858/3 (in whose catalogue it is said to be the same as the 2nd movement of the String Quartet in E flat).
20 leaves, grey front wrapper (contemporary ink and pencil pagination 1-10, [4 unpaginated pages], 11-35. The cancelled Andante occupies the 4 unpaginated pages.
3b
Set of parts (3bi-iv, Violin 1 and 2, Viola, 'Cello).
Autograph copy in ink, incorporating alterations and corrections.
The second movement is the rejected Andante from 3a.
32 leaves (8 to each part) in grey wrapper
Size: 335 x 255mm.
3b, v
Additional bifolium marked “Cello Adagio”, containing the 'Cello part of a quartet (?) slow movement in C minor.
Identified in 2012 by Bettina Marquardt as belonging to the string quartet in E flat, (British Library MS Add 46859 [Ethel Smyth Collection Vol XX, fol. 1-31]).
1f
3c
Set of parts
As in 3b above, a contemporary neater copy in another hand, not including the draft 'cello adagio.
25 leaves (6, 6, 7 and 6)
Size: 360 x 270 mm.