Alice Mary Smith: the first known woman in Britain to have composed a symphony
A Victorian composer and performer, Alice Mary Smith made a significant contribution to the Austro-German Classical tradition in music, not to mention writing the first symphony to be completed by a British woman. She showed a talent for music from a young age and took lessons privately from William Sterndale Bennett and George Alexander Macfarren, publishing her first song in 1857. In November 1867 she was elected Female Professional Associate of the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Smith wrote this ‘first’ symphony, her symphony in C minor, in 1863 aged 24, and it was performed the same year by the Musical Society of London. In addition to this, Smith’s list of known works includes another symphony, written in A minor, two large choral works with soloists, four large scale cantatas, as well as an extensive collection of 40 songs.
Take a listen to the first known symphony ever composed by a British woman, Smith’s ‘Symphony in C minor’:
Alice Mary Smith's British Music Collection profile can be found here.