B0578. ETHYL SMYTH. Impressions That Remained, Memoirs. New York, Knopf, 1946. 509pp. Index; Photo.
“Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was a lively inhabitant of varied worlds, which she recreated in nine autobiographical volumes. In this abridgement of her memoirs by the former music critic of London's Finacial Times, we see her as an accomplished musician (composer of six operas), active in the suffragette movement with Emmeline Pankhurst, and as a woman capable of passionate attachment to other, often older, women. Smyth was accepted among the coteries of Brahms, Schumann and Mendelssohn and was an intimate of such luminaries as ex-Empress Eugenie of France and Queen Victoria, all captured in elegant, often amusing, vignettes. A long and eventful life is recorded here by an artist prominent in the revival of interest in British music of the earlier part of this century.
Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was an exceptional woman in an age rich in strong personalities. Best known for her opera THE WRECKERS, her music, long neglected, is gradually winning new friends. A feminist, intrepid traveller and sportswoman, she wrote nine volumes of autobiography, vividly recounting a life packed with incident. Aged nineteen, in the face of fierce opposition from her father, she went to Germany to study and 'plunged joyfully into the dear old sea of German music which surged about the feet of Brahms', befriending Schumann's widow, Clara, and the composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg and his wife, Lisl, the first of many women to whom Ethel was passionately attached. Her writings, abridged by Ronald Crichton [above], and including a catalogue of her music, are full of brilliant portraits - Brahms, Mahler, Beecham, Emmeline Pankhurst and Queen Victoria - all described in uncompromising detail. Numerous anecdotes range from hurling a brick through a cabinet minister's window, resulting in two months in Holloway prison - where she was observed, leaning through the bars, conducting her March of the Women with a toothbrush - to an Egyptian visit where she sought out a hermaphrodite in order to make an anatomical examination.”
- Z. D. Akron