Madeleine Dring

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Madeleine Winefride Isabelle Dring (September 7, 1923 – March 26, 1977) was an English composer and actress.


Madeleine Dring was born into a musical family. Growing up in Raleigh Road, Harringay, she showed talent at an early age and took lessons in the junior division of the Royal College of Music beginning on her tenth birthday. She attended on scholarship for violin, though her talent for the stage was also noticed, and she performed in the children's theatre. She continued at the Royal College for senior-level study in music, where her composition teachers included Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, and Gordon Jacob; she also studied mime and drama. Dring's two loves of theatre and music would coexist happily; many of her compositions were for the stage, upon which she often sang and played piano.

In 1947 she married Roger Lord, an oboist, for whom she composed several works, including the highly regarded Dances for solo oboe. They had a son in 1950.

A book, Madeleine Dring: Her Music, Her Life, by Ro Hancock-Child, was published in 2000 (2nd edition 2009), with cartoon illustrations from Dring's own notebooks.[1] Several articles, compact disc recordings and inclusions of Dring's biographical information in books about composers in the last decade have secured her compositions a place in the modern concert repertoire. Dring died in 1977 of a cerebral hemorrhage.


A student of Herbert Howells, Gordon Jacob and occasionally Ralph Vaughan Williams, Madeleine Dring's style is typically light and unpretentious. She admired the idiomatic and rhythmically vibrant writing of Francis Poulenc, which is echoed in her works. Her harmonizations are often jazzy; her writing has often been compared to that of George Gershwin. She wrote many of her songs for herself and as such made no particular effort to make them easy to sing, melodically, as she herself had perfect pitch.

As family responsibilities would keep her from completing large-scale works, most of Dring's output was in shorter forms; she wrote a good deal of solo piano and chamber music, as well as many pedagogical works. She did, however, complete a one-act opera, Cupboard Love, and a dance drama, The Fair Queen of Wu.

Simon William Lord, Dring's grandson, used some of her compositions for tracks on his solo 'Lord Skywave' album.


(Dring often provided no dates for her compositions; many dates come from Alistair Fisher's treatise on her.) Where there are no dates of composition, publication dates have been provided, most of which are posthumously published by her husband, Roger Lord.

Instrumental and vocal[edit]

  • Italian Dance (1960) Oboe and Piano
  • Fantasy Sonata (1938), piano and clarinet
  • Three Fantastic Variations on Lilliburlero (1948), two pianos
  • Jig (1948), piano
  • Prelude and Toccata (1948), piano
  • Tarantelle (1948), piano duet
  • Three Shakespeare Songs (original score housed at Royal College of Music, London), (1949) (Published by Legnick 1949, republished with 4 additional Shakespeare songs, Thames 1992, published as Dring Volume 1)* First performance 10 May, 1944 with Ifor Evans, Baritone, Madeleine Dring, Accompanist, performed at the RCM
  • Festival Scherzo (1951), piano and string orchestra;
  • Sonata for two pianos (1951)
  • Thank you, Lord (1953), vocal, text L. Kyme (not published as composed)
  • March: for the New Year (1954), piano
  • Caribbean Dance (Tempo Tobago) (1959), piano duet or solo
  • Dance Suite (1961), piano
  • Polka (1962), oboe and piano
  • Colour Suite (1963), piano
  • The Pigtail (1963) vocal duet, text A. von Chamisso
  • Danza gaya (1965), two pianos or oboe and piano (original score housed at Royal College of Music, London)
  • Dedications: Five poems by R. Herrick (1967), vocal suite (published 1992 by Thames as Dring Volume 2)* (original score housed at Royal College of Music, London)
  • Three Dances (1968), piano
  • Trio for Flute, Oboe, and Piano (1968)
  • Love and time: Four Songs (1970s) (published in 1994 by Thames as Dring Volume 5)*
  • Four Night Songs: texts of Michael Armstrong (1976), (published 1985 Cambria (US) 1992 Thames as Dring Volume 3)*
  • Five Betjeman Songs (1976) (published in 1980 by Weinberger)* (original score housed at Royal College of Music, London)
  • Valse française (1980), solo or duo piano * (original scores housed at Royal College of Music, London)
  • Three Pieces: WIB Waltz, Sarabande, Tango (1983), flute and piano*
  • Waltz (1983), oboe and piano*
  • Suite (1984), harmonica and piano (later arranged by Peter Lord for oboe)*
  • Trio for oboe, bassoon, and harpsichord (1986)* (original score housed at Royal College of Music, London)
  • Seven Songs for Medium Voice (various compositional dates, compiled and published by Thames in 1993 as Dring Volume 4)*
  • Six Songs for High Voice (various compositional dates, compiled and published by Thames in 1999 as Dring Volume 6)*

Include: My true-love hath my heart, Echoes, The Cherry Blooming, The Parting, The Enchantment, Love is a Sickness

  • Idyll for oboe (viola) and piano (The composer's husband Roger Lord, disappointed that the piece remained unplayed and unpublished for many years, perhaps because of its chromaticism, decided to transcribe the solo part for oboe, his own instrument, to which it is well suited. Idyll was first recorded in 2007 by Thierry Cammaert, oboist of the Quartz Ensemble, a Belgian winds ensemble. The ensemble has also performed the work as a trio for flute, oboe and piano.)

Theatre, drama, and television[edit]

Incidental music[edit]

  • The Emperor and the Nightingale (1941) Performed at the RCM 20 December, 1941. No score is available at this time.
  • Tobias and the Angel (1946)
  • Somebody’s Murdered Uncle (1947) for BBC radio; Duets: "I should have trusted you darling" and "There's nothing to stop us now"
  • The Buskers (1959)
  • The Jackpot Question (1961), for Associated TV
  • The Whisperers (1961), for Associated TV
  • The Provok’d Wife (1963) Four pieces typeset by Alistair Fisher
  • The Lady and the Clerk (1964), for Associated TV
  • I Can Walk Where I Like, Can’t I? (1964), for Associated TV
  • When the Wind Blows (1965), for Associated TV
  • Helen and Edward and Henry (1966), for Associated TV
  • Variation on a Theme (1966), for Associated TV

Musical revues[edit]

  • Airs on a Shoestring (1953) Songs: "Model Models," Films on the Cheap Side at Cheapside" and "Snowman" (all lyrics by Charlotte Mitchell), "Sing High, Sing Low" (Lyric by Madeleine Dring).
  • Pay the Piper (1954) "Pay the Piper" (Location of score unknown at this time)
  • From Here and There (1955) "Resolutions" and "Life Sentence" (Lyricist Charlotte Mitchell)
  • Fresh Airs (1955) "Mother knows," "Miss Spenser," (Lyricist Madeleine Dring), "Witchery," dance number
  • Child’s Play (1958) "High in the Pines" and "Love song" (Lyricist Sean Rafferty), Overture
  • Four to the Bar (1961) "Diedre" was included in this, also known as "Mother knows" from "Fresh Airs"


  • Waiting for ITMA (1947), for BBC TV
  • The Real Princess (1971), 2 pianos


  • Cupboard Love

Other compositions[edit]

  • The Wild Swans (1950), children's play
  • The Fair Queen of Wu (1951), dance-drama for BBC TV
  • The Marsh Kings’s Daughter (1951), children’s play
  • Little Laura (1960) cartoon series music for BBC TV


  1. ^ Barnett (2000)


  • Banfield, Stephen, "Madeleine Dring". Grove Music online. (subscription access)
  • Barnett, Rob, "Madeleine Dring: her life and Music by Ro Hancock-Child" (review of 2000 edition), MusicWeb International, April 2000
  • Brister, Wanda, The Songs of Madeleine Dring: Organizing a Posthumous Legacy, DMA dissertation, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2004. (Biography, overview of works, examination of art songs.)
  • Brister, Wanda, "The Songs of Madeleine Dring," Journal of Singing: The Official Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Vol 64 No 5, pp. 565–578. (Biographical sketch and discussion of all published art songs.)
  • Davis, Richard, "Singer's Notes: Seven Shakespeare Songs of Madeleine Dring". South Central Music Bulletin, Volume III, no.1, Fall 2004.
  • Fisher, Alistair, The Songs of Madeleine Dring and the Evolution of Her Compositional Style", Bachelor's thesis, University of Hull, 2000
  • Hancock-Child, Ro, Madeleine Dring: Her Music, Her Life 2nd edition, Micropress 2009 (biography and full catalogue of works)
  • Kimball, Carol, "Madeleine Dring," article in Song: A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature, Rev ed, Hal Leonard 2006, pp 401–403. (biographical sketch, short look at vocal works, includes bibliography.)

External links[edit]