Repertoire to Know: Alice Mary Smith

With only two weeks left until the deadline for the Performance Grants, our next composer that deserves some attention is Alice Mary Smith (1839-1884).

Smith was born in London to an affluent family and had impressive opportunities to study and participate in the professional music world, including being an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music.  She received excellent support from her family and a strong education – her first song was published in 1857.  Though she was among many Victorian woman composers in England at the time, she was the only woman to focus on large scale works (she did also compose art songs and chamber works like her peers, which were generally considered more appropriate genres for “lady composers”).  Among her oeuvre of large scale choral works and overtures Smith completed two symphonies – both while younger than 30 years old.

Here is the first, composed at age 24, the Symphony in C minor:

You can view the scores for her both symphonies through Google Books – and purchase (or rent) her works through A-R Editions.

This largely forgotten work, or any of Alice Mary Smith’s compositions, would be an excellent addition to any orchestra’s repertoire.  Make sure to remind your favorite ensemble complete the Performance Grant and suggest Smith’s work for an upcoming concert season!


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