Dr Leah Broad presents rare performance of Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D Major at the Royal Albert Hall

Christ Church Junior Research Fellow Dr Leah Broad has been interviewed on BBC Radio 3 about the composer Ethel Smyth.

Dr Leah BroadDr Broad, whose research centres around women composers in twentieth century Britain, is current writing a book about four composers – Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Dorothy Howell, and Doreen Carwithen – due to be published by Faber and Faber in 2023.

On August 20th, Dr Broad and presenter Petroc Trelawny recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC, and discussed the radically pioneering works of Smyth and Claude Debussy.

She expands on how Smyth was enormously popular in her time, but is only now enjoying a resurgence following a period of being largely unknown.

A contemporary of Dvorjak and Tchaikovsky, Smyth was a suffragette activist, writing their anthem, and a close friend of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Dr Broad goes on to introduce a rare performance of Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D Major, the first Proms performance since the composer’s own lifetime.

Written in around 1891 following the death of Smyth’s mother, the piece was performed by Smyth to Queen Victoria at Balmoral, and in 1893 in the Royal Albert Hall, where it divides the opinion of critics, some of whom consider it ‘too masculine’, and effectively the music disappears for 30 years.