THE MEMOIRS OF ETHEL SMYTH by Ethel Smyth

THE MEMOIRS OF ETHEL SMYTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Compiled from letters and out-of-print memoirs ably abridged by Ronald Crichton, these selections tell the sprightly tale of the extraordinary life, and musical and social times, of this turn-of-the-century composer. It's easy to see why, if Smyth's music failed to capture the heart of the British public in her day, her life seized its imagination. A natural entertainer, she writes charmingly, confidently, and with great good humor--irresistibly describing growing up among athletic, sociable country gentry; breaking away to do what ""nice"" gifts did not do (travel third-class to study music in Germany); coming of age as a composer, traveller, and friend of the likes of Queen Victoria, the Kaiser, Empress Eugenic, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mahler, Brahms, Emmeline Pankhurst, and others (all portrayed vivaciously with anecdote and insight). Classical composer as well as indomitable sportswoman, a nonconformist delighting in Royalty, an adventurous conversationalist and traveller with a penchant for early nights and big dogs, Smyth is refreshingly buoyant, managing to rise above daunting circumstances (sparse finances, tepid reception of her work, two months in prison as a suffragette)--always the heroine of her own life. Smyth was an inspiring character whose passionate yet sensible take on the world makes for deliciously subjective history. (A catalogue of her music appends the book.)

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1987
Publisher: Viking