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CFP: Ethel Smyth Symposium, Dublin City University, 12-13 July 2024

Dame Ethel Smyth: Connections, Culture, and Context

Dublin City University
12–13 July 2024

CFP deadline EXTENDED: Monday 29 January 2024


Writing in her 1936 autobiography As Time Went On, Dame Ethel Smyth remarked that she had ‘never yet succeeded in becoming even a tiny wheel in the English music machine’. Smyth’s observation encapsulates the frustration that she often felt during her career as she strove to penetrate the male-dominated world of music. However, since the 1980s, a wealth of research has highlighted Smyth’s significance as a composer, writer, and social activist of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The landmark performance of The Wreckers (1902–04) at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival in 2022, and the world premiere of her cantata The Song of Love in 2023, reflect the ever-growing interest in performing Smyth’s music. The desire to bring new life to forgotten works is further exemplified by the first commercial recording of Der Wald (1899–1901), released by Resonus Classics in 2023 and highly praised by critics.

To mark the 80th anniversary of Ethel Smyth’s death in May 2024, this interdisciplinary symposium invites proposals concerning all aspects of Smyth’s life and music. Moreover, it seeks to broaden our understanding of Smyth’s world by looking at the culture and context from which her music emerged and aims to deepen our awareness of the social connections that she made over the course of her career. As such, we welcome proposals related (but not limited) to Ethel Smyth’s:

  • Musical output
  • Life and biography
  • Identity
  • Publications and autobiographical writing
  • Education and Leipzig circles
  • Political activities
  • Friendships and wider networks

We are delighted to announce that Dr Christopher Wiley (University of Surrey) will give the keynote address at the symposium. Wiley is an internationally acknowledged expert on musical biography and has published extensively on Ethel Smyth.


Please submit proposals of up to 250 words for 20-minute individual or co-authored presentations and 30-minute lecture recitals to Hannah Millington at by Monday 29 January 2024. Submissions should be sent in Word or Pages format and include a brief biographical note of no more than 150 words. We particularly welcome proposals from post/graduate students, independent scholars, and under-represented communities.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome by Friday 16 February.


We thank you for your engagement and look forward to welcoming you to Dublin City University in 2024.

Hear ‘Der Wald’ for the first time in over 100 years!

Image of orchestra musicians in a sound studio.
Photo credit: Amy Zigler

Finally, a commercial recording of Smyth’s second opera, Der Wald, which by all accounts had not been heard in full since 1904,  is available. You can purchase the recording through Resonus Classics or find it on your favorite streaming service.

Read more about the recording session here.

Reviews of the 2023 recording of Der Wald have been significantly more positive than those of the NY critics in 1903, when Der Wald was performed at the Met. Here are just a few examples:

Erica Jeal of The Guardian gave it 4 stars.

Richard Bratby of Gramophone gave it high marks in his interview with the conductor.

Clive Paget gave it 4 1/2 stars and Limelight magazine named it editor’s choice for its January 2024 issue.

AND – it was awarded a Presto Music Award for best World Premiere Recording – Rediscovery!

BBC Culture brings attention to Smyth’s work ahead of several Proms concerts

As the Proms will be featuring Smyth’s music on no fewer than FIVE concerts during the 2022 season, BBC Culture ran a detailed article on her life and music last week. Beverley D’Silva interviewed Leah Broad, Sophie Fuller, Melly Still, Stephen Langridge and Amy Zigler in advance of the July 24 Prom 13 semi-staged performance of The Wreckers by the Glyndebourne Opera Company.

Read the article here.

Listen to the BBC Radio 3 broadcast through the end of August here.

Subscribe to Glyndebourne’s livestream and watch the production yourself here.

Smyth wins a GRAMMY!

On March 14, 2021, Sarah Brailey, Dashon Burton, James Blachly and the Experiential Orchestra won a Grammy award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for Smyth’s The Prison.

This is Smyth’s first Grammy, and the first Grammy awarded to a historical female composer.

The hour-long work was released by Chandos Records on August 7, 2020.

Liner notes were contributed by Elizabeth Wood, Amy Zigler, and James Blachly.