1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Smyth, Ethel

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SMYTH, ETHEL (1858- ), English musical composer, was born in London on April 23 1858, the daughter of Gen. J. H. Smyth. She began her musical studies at Leipzig in 1877, becoming a pupil of Heinrich von Herzogenberg, then conductor of the Bach Verein, whose wife was an intimate friend of Johannes Brahms. She was thus thrown from the first into a highly intellectual musical society. Her earliest works, principally chamber music, were performed at Leipzig; her first orchestral works being produced by (Sir) August Manns at the Crystal Palace concerts and the symphony concerts started in 1886 by (Sir) George Hcnschel. She also produced a Mass, performed in 1893 at the Albert Hall. Subsequently she turned her attention to opera, her first work in this direction being Fantasia, based upon a book by De Musset (produced at Weimar 1898 and revived at Karlsruhe 1901). This was followed by Der Wald, produced at Dresden in 1901 and at Covent Garden, London, in 1902, and New York 1903; and The Wreckers, produced under the title “Strandrecht” at Leipzig and Prague in 1906, at His Majesty's theatre, London, in 1909, and at Covent Garden in 1910. Her opera, The Boatswain's Male, written for a German theatre, but, owing to the war, not produced there, was produced in London in 1915, and was revived in 1918 and met with considerable success. She also published in 1907 a series of songs with instrumental accompaniment, and in 1913 four orchestral songs. Miss Smyth, who received the degree of Mus. Doc. from Durham University in 1910, became known as a leading militant suffragette, and, besides other music written for the cause, produced The March of the Women (1911). In 1919 she published two volumes of brightly written autobiography and reminiscences under the title Impressions that Remained, and in 1921 another book, Streaks of Life. On Jan. 1 1922 she was created D.B.E.