Following on from Una Hunt’s documentary on the nineteenth-century pianist and composer, Fanny Robinson last week, Lyric FM continue to explore the work of forgotten female composers over the next few weeks in the Women of Note series of documentaries. More details below:
Women of Note series
Lyric FM, 7pm.
Produced by Rockfinch Productions
Women of Note is a series of six programmes on composers from the 19th and 20th centuries whose music is rarely, if ever, heard. All are women, all Irish or with strong Irish connections. Each programme is richly illustrated with the music of these composers, through both existing recordings and new performances by contralto Elizabeth Pink, pianist Anthony Byrne, mezzo soprano Colette McGahon and pianist David Brophy.
Contributors to the series include Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, JoAnn Falletta, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, and Sophie Fuller, author of The Pandora Guide to Women Composers.
The composers who feature in the series are:
Lady Helena Dufferin (1807-1867)
Augusta Holmès (1847-1903)
Adela Maddison (1862/3-1929)
Hope Temple (1859-1938)
Annie Patterson (1868-1934)
Alicia Adelaide Needham (1863-1945)
Mary Dickenson Auner (1880-1965)
Ellen O’Hea (185x-188x)
Charlotte Milligan-Fox (1864-1916)
Dorothy Parke (1904-1990)
Rhoda Coghill (1903-2000)
PROGRAMME 1 – Friday 7 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm
In the first programme in the series Women of Note, Axel Klein, the author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, and JoAnn Falletta, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, talk about the particular obstacles which women composers faced in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They introduce us to the music of Augusta Holmės(1847-1903), who was forced to use a male pseudonym in the early years of her career in order to be taken seriously as a composer. In time, her reputation grew to the extent that she was chosen to compose an ode to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution.
The programme includes a new performance by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied on piano by Anthony Byrne, of Augusta Holmès’s Noël d’Irlande.
Contributors: Axel Klein, Jennifer O’Connor and JoAnn Falletta.
PROGRAMME 2: Friday 14 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm
In programme 2 of the series Women of Note we hear the music of Adela Maddison and Hope Temple. Both women studied in Paris, but their careers were vastly different. Hope Temple would probably be entirely forgotten if it were not for a mention of one of her works in Ulysses, while Adela Maddison’s work has lasted, with some of her songs still forming part of the French repertoire. The programme includes new performances by mezzo soprano Colette McGahon and pianist David Brophy of songs by both Adela Maddison and Hope Temple.
Contributors: Axel Klein, Jennifer O’Connor and Sophie Fuller.
PROGRAMME 3: Friday 21 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm
Programme 3 of Women of Note brings us the music and stories of Annie Patterson and Dorothy Parke. Annie Patterson was born in County Armagh, but her family moved to Dublin when she was a child. She composed and taught music, and wrote books and articles about music, but her greatest achievement is probably the founding of the Feis Ceoil.
Dorothy Parke was born in Derry and dedicated her life to teaching music. From 1930, she became a highly accomplished piano teacher, working in Derry, Coleraine and Belfast. She continued to compose while teaching, with her greatest output of works from the 1930s to the 1960s. Her work includes instrumental, solo vocal and choral works for both adults and children. She was also the first tutor for young musicians who would later become internationally renowned, including Derek Bell. The programme includes new performances of works by Annie Patterson by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied on piano by Anthony Byrne.
Contributors: Axel Klein, Jennifer O’Connor, Una Hunt and Ann-Marie O’Regan.
PROGRAMME 4: Friday 28 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm
The lives of the composers featured in programme 4 of Women of Note could hardly be more different. Ellen O’Hea who published her music under the name Elena Norton, never left Ireland and died young (probably in her twenties). Only a couple of her songs survive; her operas have been lost, until perhaps they turn up somewhere in a dusty attic.
Mary Dickinson-Auner on the other hand, lived in Ireland, Germany, Romania and Austria and died at the age of 85. She had a successful international career as a violinist, until the Nazis put a stop to her public performances in 1930s Austria. Now that she could neither perform nor teach, she devoted herself to composing, and between 1938 and 1963 Mary Dickenson-Auner wrote five symphonies, two oratorios, three operas and numerous chamber music works and songs. The programme includes new performances by mezzo soprano Colette McGahon and pianist David Brophy of songs by both Ellen O’Hea and Mary Dickenson-Auner, and a performance by contralto Elizabeth Pink and pianist Anthony Byrne of a song by Ellen O’Hea.
Contributors: Axel Klein, Jennifer O’Connor and Margarethe Engelhardt-Krajanek.
PROGRAMME 5: broadcast details to be confirmed
Alicia Adelaide Needham was a prolific composer who had more than 200 works published during her lifetime. Her collections of lullabies were her biggest successes and her lullaby Husheen became perhaps her best-known song, made famous by celebrity singers like Clara Butt.
Charlotte Milligan-Fox was born in Omagh in Co Tyrone. Her major contribution to Irish music was to discover the Bunting Manuscripts, thereby saving many old Irish airs and songs from being lost. She made arrangements of many tunes and also wrote some original compositions. The programme includes performance of songs by Alicia Adelaide Needham by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied by pianists Anthony Byrne and Deborah Kelleher.
PROGRAMME 6: broadcast details to be confirmed
Programme 6 of Women of Note brings us the music of the earliest composer in the series and the most recent. Lady Helena Dufferin was a songwriter, poet and author. She was the author of the immortal words “Och girls, dear, did you ever hear / I wrote my love a letter / and although he cannot read, sure I thought ‘twas all the better’. Some of her songs achieved popularity when they were performed by John McCormack. Rhoda Coghill will be known to generations of music lovers as the long-standing accompanist at RTÉ, although many are not aware that she, too, was also a poet and composer. The programme incudes a new performance of Lady Dufferin’s Katey’s Letter by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied by Anthony Byrne on piano.
New performance editions of several of the songs recorded were prepared by Edward Holden.
This is an independent production by Claire Cunningham, Rockfinch Ltd, 16 St Malachy Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.
Email: email@example.com .
These programmes are made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.