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Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, DBE (23 April 1858 – 8 May 1944) was an English composer and a member of the women's suffrage movement. Smyth was born in London, as the fourth of a family of eight children. Her father, J. H. Smyth, who was a Major-General in the Royal Artillery, was very much opposed to her making a career in music.

Undeterred, Smyth was determined to become a composer, studied with a private tutor, and then attended the Leipzig Conservatory, where she met many composers of the day. Her compositions include songs, works for piano, chamber music, orchestral and concertante works, choral works, and operas.

She lived at Frimhurst, near Frimley Green for many years, but from 1913 onwards, she began gradually to lose her hearing and managed to complete only four more major works before deafness brought her composing career to an end. However, she found a new interest in literature and, between 1919 and 1940, she published ten highly successful, mostly autobiographical, books.

In recognition of her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1922. She died in Woking in 1944 at the age of 86, and was cremated there.

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Discography

Album

Year Title Rating Releases
1997 Mass in D 1

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