Margaret Sutherland

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Margaret Ada Sutherland (20 November 1897 – 12 August 1984) was an Australian composer, among the best-known female musicians her country has produced.

A student of Edward Goll in Australia and of Sir Arnold Bax in London during the 1920s, Margaret Sutherland wrote pieces in almost all forms, but particularly concentrated on the genre of chamber music. Her major works include a symphony,[1] The Four Temperaments (orchestrated by Robert W. Hughes in 1964), concertos for various instruments (including violin), a symphonic poem entitled Haunted Hills (1953), and the chamber opera The Young Kabbarli (1964; libretto by Maie Casey). A severe stroke in 1969 ended her composing career.

Despite the emphasis on non-vocal works in her total output, one of Margaret Sutherland's most recognised pieces is "In the Dim Counties" (1936) for voice and piano accompaniment from Five Songs. Sutherland sets her music to the poetry of Shaw Neilson, considered a ‘"pastoral" lyric poet’ from Australia whose verse has ‘simplicity of form and restraint of utterance’. Sutherland captures this through sharp rhythms, light instrumentation and ‘even musical balance’. Five Songs has been recorded by numerous Australian female artists such as Helen Noonan.


  • 6 Australian Songs
  • Extension
  • Four Blake Songs
  • Two Chorale Preludes – Jesu, meine Freude
  • Six songs to the poems of Judith Wright


  1. ^ "The Australian Symphony in the 1950s" (PDF). Retrieved 27 June 2010. 
  • Triplow, Leighton H. "An analysis of 'In the Dim Counties’ from Five Songs (1936) by Margaret Sutherland", 2011.
  • David Symons (1997). "The music of Margaret Sutherland". Currency Press, Sydney.
  • Cliff Hanna quoted in David Symons, The Music of Margaret Sutherland (Sydney: Currency Press, 1997), 47; David Symons The Music of Margaret Sutherland (Sydney: Currency Press, 1997), 47. Symons does not state when Hanna made this comment.
  • Thérèse Radic, ‘Margaret Sutherland (1897-1984)’, linear notes to Helen Noonan, Woman's Song: Songs by Australian Woman Composers, Newmarket Music, NEW 1042.2, c. 1994.

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