A voice of her own : Ethel Smyth and early feminist musicology
Emerson, Helen Katrine
Throughout her life Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) fought to be recognised as a professional composer in her own right, regardless of her gender. From an early age Smyth had an awareness of the potential difficulties facing women musicians and she experienced much prejudice throughout her career. She used her own experiences as the foundation for her feminist beliefs which she expressed in her essays on women in music and in her autobiographical writings. However, her ideas have not been acknowledged, and her views have been to some extent ridiculed and ignored. An examination of Smyth's views on women in music reveals an acute awareness of her situation as a woman in a male-dominated profession. In her writings she articulated the processes by which she felt women were excluded from the profession, and in her later writings she concluded that the expression of a "female voice" in women's music was the cause for exclusion. Furthermore, her writings anticipate a number of observations and beliefs which have become central to the discipline of feminist musicology. The first chapter examines Smyth's life and career, focusing on the experiences and conditions that helped formulate her feminist beliefs. Chapter two examines Smyth's portrayal in history and argues that her historical representation perpetuates the idea that her feminist writings are of little importance. Chapters three and four demonstrate that her essays reflected feminist beliefs of the period and represented the reality experienced by many women composers. The final chapter compares modern feminist musicology with Smyth's writings, arguing that many of her theories anticipate the central arguments of feminist musicology.
Advisor: Court, Suzanne
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Music
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
viii, 180 leaves :ill. ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Music.