Rosalind Ellicott

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An 1890 portrait of Ellicott, by Herbert Rose Barraud

Rosalind Frances Ellicott (November 14, 1857 – April 5, 1924) was an English composer, considered one of the leading female composers of her generation.[1]


Ellicott was born in Cambridge, the daughter of Constantia Annie Ellicott (née Becher) and Charles Ellicott, the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.[2] Her father had no interest in music whatsoever and it was predominantly her mother, a singer who had been involved with the founding both of London's Handel Society (1844–1848)[3] and of the Gloucester Philharmonic Society who encouraged young Rosalind's talent.[4] At the age of six "she exhibited an extraordinary facility in music, singing,and harmonising correctly by ear".[5] She took lessons from Samuel Wesley, the cathedral organist, from age 12, tried writing songs at 13 and then a sonata at 16.[6] From 1874 to 1876 she studied piano with Frederick Westlake at the Royal Academy of Music. While at the Academy she discovered her voice and took soprano solo parts in oratorios and cantatas and was a frequent soloist at the Three Choirs Festival.[1] She also studied composition for seven years under Thomas Wingham of the Brompton Oratory. She was a member of the International Society of Musicians and the National Society of Professional Musicians, as well as an ARAM.[7] She composed rapidly: "I get a whole movement in my head before I touch paper. I hardly ever alter my compositions."[6]

In 1886 she found success at the Gloucester Festival with her Dramatic Overture and then in 1889 with Elysium, a lyrical cantata. These were performed in later years in Bristol, Cheltenham, Oxford, London, Dresden and Chicago. Her songs and chamber works were regularly performed at the festivals where they were well-received:[7] of her Elysium: "the orchestration is full and vigorous, the brass specially bold and refreshing, and there is not a dull bar .... It is a charming and spirited work [and received] repeated calls".[8]

It has been suggested that her father's position as a bishop enabled her to have some of her works performed at the Three Choirs Festival (held in rotation in Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester.) However the majority of new composers used patronage from established musicians or other influential people in order to obtain festival premieres.[1] Her ambitious works for chorus and orchestra were cast in a traditional, broadly Romantic vein but she began to turn her attention to chamber music by the end of the nineteenth century, possibly hoping that there would be more opportunities for it to be performed. She began disappearing from the public eye sometime around 1900, moving to the south coast after World War I and dying in Seasalter in 1924.[note 1] She is buried near her parents in the churchyard of Birchington-on-Sea, in Kent.


Comparatively little of Ellicott's work has survived to this day apart from a few songs and other instrumental works.


  • "The sweet blue eyes of springtime". (Die blauen Frühlingsaugen.) Song; poem by H. Heine. English translation by C. Rowe (1881)
  • "From my sad tears are springing". (Aus meinen Thränen.) Song; poem by H. Heine. English translation by C. Rowe (1881)
  • "To the Immortals". Song; words by D. F. Blomfield (1883)
  • A Sketch for violin with piano accompaniment (1883)
  • "Verlust": solo song; words by Heine, English Translation by J. Troutbeck. [In C minor and D minor.] (1884)
  • "I love thee". Song; words by R. S. Hichens (1887)
  • "Sing to me". Duet for Soprano & Tenor; words by R. S. Hichens (1887)
  • "Radiant Sister of the Day". A Four-part Song; words by Shelley (1887)
  • "Peace be around thee". Four-part Song; words written by T. Moore (1888)
  • A Reverie for Violoncello & Pianoforte (1888)
  • Elysium: for soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra (1889)
  • "Bring the bright Garlands". Part-Song; words by Moore (1889)
  • "A Dream of the Sea". Song; words by R. S. Hichens (1889)
  • Two trios for pianoforte, violin and violoncello (1891)
  • Six Pieces for Violin and Pianoforte (1891)
  • The birth of song: a cantata for soli, chorus and orchestra (1892)
  • Henry of Navarre: a choral ballad with orchestral accompaniment ad. lib. (1894)[9]
  • Fantasia for piano and orchestra (1895)[10]


  • The second piano trio was recorded by the Summerhayes Piano Trio. (English Romantic Trios: Meridian Records, 2005. CDE84478)
  • Reverie was recorded by Joseph Spooner (cello) and Michael Jones (piano) at Potton Hall, Suffolk, 21–23 May 2008. (Romantics in England – Music for Cello & Piano: Dutton, 2009. CDLX7225)


  1. ^ Sources differ on this; some state that she died in London, not in Seasalter, although the year given is the same.


  1. ^ a b c Dr Pippa Drummond (2013). Provincial Music Festival in England, 1784–1914. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409494614.
  2. ^ "Mrs Ellicott". The Times. London, England (40455): 10. 24 February 1914.
  3. ^ Chronology of George Frideric Handel's Life Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Dr David C.F. Wright. "ROSALIND ELLICOTT". Music on the Web. Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  5. ^ "MISS ROSALIND ELLICOTT". Berrow's Worcester Journal. Worcester, England (10223): 6. 21 September 1889.
  6. ^ a b "MISS ELLICOTT INTERVIEWED". The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post. Bristol, England (13529). 22 September 1891.
  7. ^ a b Sophie Fuller. "Ellicott, Rosalind Frances". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 31 March 2014. Subscription required
  8. ^ "THE GLOUCESTER MUSICAL FESTIVAL". The Pall Mall Gazette. London, England (7634). 5 September 1889.
  9. ^ "Most widely held works by Rosalind Frances Ellicott". OCLC WorldCat. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  10. ^ "ELLICOTT, ROSALIND FRANCES". Music Dictionary Featuring The Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians. Retrieved 31 March 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schleifer, Martha Furman (2006). Women composers: music through the ages: volume eight (Partitur ed.). New York: G.K. Hall. ISBN 9780783881935.
  • Fuller, Sophie (1994). The Pandora guide to women composers: Britain and the United States 1629–present. London: Pandora. ISBN 9780044408970.
  • Boden, Anthony (1992). Three Choirs: Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester; a history of the festival. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 9780750900829.
  • Fuller, Sophie (1998). Women composers during the British musical renaissance, 1880–1918: University of London

External links[edit]

  • "Concert Programmes". Arts and Humanities Research Council. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  • "Rosalind Frances Ellicott". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 31 March 2014. (Creative Commons Licence Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) not suitable for uploading to Wikipedia)