Alice Mary Smith

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Alice Mary Smith, married name Alice Mary Meadows White (19 May 1839 – 4 December 1884) was an English composer. Her compositions included two symphonies and some large choral works.

Biography[edit]

Smith was born in London, the third child of a relatively well-to-do family. She showed aptitude for music from her early years and took lessons privately from William Sterndale Bennett and George Alexander Macfarren, publishing her first song in 1857. In November 1867, the year of her marriage to a lawyer, Frederick Meadows White, she was elected Female Professional Associate of the Royal Philharmonic Society.

In 1884 she was elected an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. The same year, after a period of illness in which she went abroad to try to recover, she died of typhoid fever in London.

Works[edit]

Smith was a prolific composer of both large and small scale works. Among her compositions are four piano quartets, three string quartets, a clarinet sonata (1870), six concert overtures and two symphonies. Her first symphony, in C minor, was written at the age of 24 and performed by the Musical Society of London in 1863; the second, in A minor, was written for the Alexandra Palace competition of 1876, but was never submitted. Smith composed two large choral works with soloists: an operetta, Gisela of Rüdesheim which was performed in 1865 at the Fitzwilliam Music Society, Cambridge, and The Masque of Pandora (1875), for which the orchestration was never completed.

In 1880 she turned her attention towards writing large-scale cantatas, all published by Novello and Co. These included Ode to the North-East Wind for chorus and orchestra, Ode to The Passions (1882), her longest work, performed at the Hereford Festival in that year, and two cantatas for male voices in the last two years of her life. The Valley of Remorse, a setting of a poem by Louisa Sarah Bevington for chorus, soloists and orchestra, remained incomplete at her death, and is lost. Of her forty songs, her most popular work was the vocal duet "Maying".

Smith's manuscripts are housed in the Royal Academy of Music Library and two symphonies and two overtures are published by A-R Editions.[1] The Symphony in A minor, Symphony in C minor and the Andante for clarinet and orchestra have been recorded by Howard Shelley and the London Mozart Players for Chandos.

According to an obituary in The Athenaeum of 13 December 1884: "Her music is marked by elegance and grace ... power and energy. Her forms were always clear and her ideas free from eccentricity; her sympathies were evidently with the Classic rather than with the Romantic school."

References[edit]

  • Rosemary Williamson: 'Smith [White; Meadows White], Alice Mary', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 4 February 2005), <http://www.grovemusic.com>
  • J. C. Hadden, ‘White , Alice Mary Meadows (1839-1884)’, rev. David J. Golby, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 4 Feb 2005
  • Ian Graham-Jones: 'The Life and Music of Alice Mary Smith (1839-1884), A Woman Composer of the Victoria Era' (Edwin Mellen Press, 2010)

External links[edit]