Leah Broad

Mon 17 July 2023

Interviewed by Lucy Dusgate

Quartet: How Four Women Changed the Musical World

Ethel Smyth was famed for her operas, a trailblazing queer Victorian composer, a larger-than-life socialite, traveller and suffragette. Rebecca Clarke was a talented violist and one of the first women hired by a professional orchestra; celebrated for her modernist experimentation. Dorothy Howell had a reputation as the ‘English Strauss’ who shot to fame at the 1919 Proms. Doreen Carwithen was one of Britain’s first female film composers, her success hiding a twenty-year affair with her married composition tutor. In their time, these women were celebrities, composing some of the century’s most popular music; today, they are ghostly presences, footnotes to male contemporaries. Until now.