Betty Roe

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Betty Roe

Betty Roe

North Kensington, London, England, UK
Alma materRoyal Academy of Music
OccupationComposer, singer, vocal coach, conductor
Years active1976 - present
Spouse(s)John Bishop

Betty Roe (born 1930) is an English composer, singer, vocal coach, and conductor.


Betty Roe was born in North Kensington, London, England. Her father was a fishmonger at the Shepherd's Bush Market, and her mother was a bookkeeper. Roe took piano lessons from the age of six with Madam Dorina and began writing music and arrangements in her teens during World War II when she assisted with choirs at the local church. She studied piano with Fiona Addie, Muriel Dale, and Sadie MacCormack, and cello with Alison Dalrymple at the Royal Academy of Music, but left school in 1947 and took a job as a filing clerk. She continued at the Royal Academy in 1949, studying piano with York Bowen, cello with Alison Dalrymple, and voice with Jean McKenzie-Grieve. She continued her study of singing with Clive Carey, Roy Hickman, Peter van der Stolk, and Margaret Field-Hyde, and studied composition with Lennox Berkeley. In the 1950s she became involved with a drama group where she began writing for musicals. She also worked as a sessions singer with London ensembles.[1][2]

Roe married John Bishop and had three children. She was Director of Music at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art from 1968–78, and founded Thames Publishing with her husband in 1970.[3] After his death in 2000 Thames Publishing became a division of William Elkin Music Services.


Roe composes solo songs, choral and sacred music, musicals, operas, instrumental pieces, and music for schools. Selected works include:

  • All The Day
  • Four Ponder Songs
  • Noble Numbers
  • Three Childhoods
  • Three Shakespeare Songs

Her compositions have been recorded and issued on CD, including:

  • The Music Tree: Solo Songs by Betty Roe (Audio CD - Mar 31, 1998) Somm Recordings, ASIN: B000006B6T
  • Music for Children By Betty Roe (Audio CD - Feb 24, 1998) Somm Recordings, ASIN: B0000265HD
  • ''Family Tree, music for children (Audio CD - March 31, 1998) Somm Recordings, ASIN: B000006B6U

Works with Marian Lines[edit]

Roe has worked in partnership with librettist Marian Lines to produce six operas, twelve musicals, a pantomime, and a number of choral works.[4]


  • The Legend of Gallant Bevis of Southampton (1977)
  • Gaslight
  • A Flight of Pilgrims (1992)
  • Lunch at the Cooked Goose (2000)
  • Welcome to Purgatory (2003)
  • Brunel: The Little Man in the Tall Hat (2006)
  • Swindon: The Opera (2012)


  • The Barnstormers (1976)
  • Kookajoo and the Magic Forest
  • The Most Wanted Faces (1978)
  • Pardon our Rubbish
  • Christmas Boxes (1980) From which are extracted the songs, Christmas Cards.
  • The Trouble with spells is... (1982)
  • The Mistress of Charlecote Park
  • Destination London (Contributed two numbers)
  • The Miracle Masque (1983)
  • The Pink Parakeet (1984)
  • Crowds (1988)
  • Astron (1994)
  • The Storm Hound (1996) Based on the legend of Black Shuck
  • Floating (2002)
  • The Magic Fishbone (Awaiting publication) Based on the short story by Charles Dickens

Choral works:

  • Burd Ellen (1976)
  • A Crown of Briar Roses (1977) For Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee
  • Circe Beguiled, a scena (1978). An encounter between Odysseus and the witch Circe.
  • A Quire of Elements (1978)
  • The Blacksmith and the Changeling
  • Songs for City Children
  • The Family Tree (1982)
  • A Cat's Tale (1990)
  • A Cycle of Elements (1995)
  • St George and the Dragon (1995)
  • Sing the Millennium (1999)
  • Dick Whittington (2005)


  1. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  2. ^ The Maud Powell signature: women in music: Volume 2, Issue 1. Maud Powell Foundation. 1997. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Composer Biographies". Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  4. ^ "The Life and Songs of English Composer Betty Roe". Journal of Singing, Vol. 58, no. 2. November–December 2001: 117–134.

External links[edit]