Composer Profile: Lilian Elkington

As part of our #afemalecomposerday campaign marking International Women's Day, we highlight the life and work of composer Lilian Elkington. 

Lilian Elkington- 'a little known, but not lost, musical life' (Caroline Collingridge, 2018)

Lilian Mary Elkington remains a case of extraordinary talent that must be unearthed and rediscovered; despite being known as a fine pianist and organist, and having studied composition under Sir Granville Bantock, not even Lilian's daughter knew of her talents as a composer. That is, bound by her duties as a mother, and a wife, Lilian's career as a composer was halted, and when her husband Arthur Kennedy remarried, all of her works were ‘disposed of’. Remarkably, the only surviving four works known to Lilian were found by accident in a bookshop in Worthing by the distinguished musicologist, David Brown.

Born in Birmingham in 1900, Lilian began to learn piano at the young age of four, and gave her first public performance at only six years old. The four works known to be by her include Out of the Mist (1921): a tone poem for orchestra, Little Hands: song, Romance, Op.1: for violin and piano, and Rhapsodie, Op.3: for violin and piano.

Out of the Mist was premiered in June 1921 with Bantock conducting the Midland Institute student orchestra. It was also performed publicly on 24 September 1988 as part of the 17th annual concert of the Broadheath Singers, by the Windsor Sinfonia, conducted by Robert Tucker. It was recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Lloyd-Jones on the Dutton label’s Epoch series, and there is a further recording made by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Laus in 2011.

Lilian Elkington' British Music Collection records can be found online here.