Women of Note

Charlotte Milligan-Fox

Charlotte Milligan-Fox

Women of Note is a series of six half hour programmes on composers whose work has been forgotten or is little known in Ireland. All the composers featured in the series were Irish or have strong Irish connections. They are: Lady Helen Dufferin, Augusta Holmès, Alicia Adelaide Needham, Annie Patterson, Charlotte Milligan-Fox, Rhoda Coghill, Elena Norton, Hope Temple, Dorothy Parke, Adela Maddison and Mary Dickenson Auner.

First broadcast in 2012. Re-broadcast in September 2016 as part of the centenary project Composing the Island: A century of music in Ireland 1916–2016.

PROGRAMME 1 – Friday 7 September 2012, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm

In the first programme in the series Women of Note, Axel Klein, the author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, who probably knows as much, if not more, about Irish classical music as anyone in Ireland, and JoAnn Falletta, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra, talk about the particular obstacles which women composers faced in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

They introduce us to the music of Augusta Holmės (1847-1903), who was forced to use a male pseudonym in the early years of her career in order to be taken seriously as a composer. In time, her reputation grew to the extent that she was chosen to compose an ode to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution.

The programme includes a new performance by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied on piano by Anthony Byrne, of Augusta Holmès’s Noël d’Irlande.

The contributors to this programme Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, and JoAnn Falletta, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra.

PROGRAMME 2: Friday 14 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm

In programme 2 of the series Women of Note we hear the music of Adela Maddison (1862/3-1929) and Hope Temple (1859-1938). Both women studied in Paris, but their careers were vastly different. Hope Temple would probably be entirely forgotten if it were not for a mention of one of her works in Ulysses, while Adela Maddison’s work has lasted, with some of her songs still forming part of the French repertoire.

The programme includes new performances by mezzo soprano Colette McGahon and pianist David Brophy of songs by both Adela Maddison and Hope Temple.

The contributors to this programme are Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, and Sophie Fuller, author of The Pandora Guide to Women Composers.

PROGRAMME 3: Friday 21 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm

Programme 3 of Women of Note brings us the music and stories of Annie Patterson (1868-1934) and Dorothy Parke (1904-1990).

Annie Patterson was born in County Armagh, but her family moved to Dublin when she was a young child. She composed and taught music, and wrote books and articles about music, but her greatest achievement is probably the founding of the Feis Ceoil.

Dorothy Parke was born in Derry and dedicated her life to teaching music. From 1930, she became a highly accomplished piano teacher, working in Derry, Coleraine and Belfast. She continued to compose while teaching, with her greatest output of works from the 1930s to the 1960s. Her work includes instrumental, solo vocal and choral works for both adults and children. She was also the first tutor for young musicians who would later become internationally renowned, including Derek Bell.

The programme includes new performances of works by Annie Patterson by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied on piano by Anthony Byrne.

The contributors to this programme are Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, pianist Una Hunt, and Ann-Marie O’Regan, author of a thesis on Dorothy Parke.

PROGRAMME 4: Friday 28 September, 7 pm, RTÉ lyric fm

The lives of the composers featured in programme 4 of Women of Note could hardly be more different. Ellen O’Hea (185x-188x), who published her music under the name Elena Norton, never left Ireland and died young (probably in her twenties). Only a couple of her songs survive; her operas have been lost, until perhaps they turn up somewhere in a dusty attic.

Mary Dickenson-Auner (1880-1965), on the other hand, lived in Ireland, Germany, Romania and Austria and died at the age of 85. She had a successful international career as a violinist, until the Nazis put a stop to her public performances in 1930s Austria. Now that she could neither perform nor teach, she devoted herself to composing, and between 1938 and 1963 Mary Dickenson-Auner wrote five symphonies, two oratorios, three operas and numerous chamber music works and songs.

The programme includes new performances by mezzo soprano Colette McGahon and pianist David Brophy of songs by both Ellen O’Hea and Mary Dickenson-Auner, and a performance by contralto Elizabeth Pink and pianist Anthony Byrne of a song by Ellen O’Hea.

The contributors to this programme are Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, and Margarethe Engelhardt-Krajanek, who has written about Mary Dickenson-Auner.

PROGRAMME 5: Friday 14 December, 7 pm, RTE lyric fm

Alicia Adelaide Needham (1880-1965) was a prolific composer who had more than 200 works published during her lifetime. Her collections of lullabies were her biggest successes and her lullaby Husheen became perhaps her best-known song, made famous by celebrity singers like Clara Butt.

Charlotte Milligan-Fox (1864-1916) was born in Omagh in Co Tyrone. Her major contribution to Irish music was to discover the Bunting Manuscripts, thereby saving many old Irish airs and songs from being lost. She made arrangements of many tunes and also wrote some original compositions.

The contributors to this programme are Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, and Colette Moloney (WIT).

The programme includes performances of songs by Alicia Adelaide Needham by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied by pianists Anthony Byrne and Deborah Kelleher, and a performance of a song by Charlotte Milligan-Fox by soprano Virginia Kerr and pianist Thérėse Fahy.

PROGRAMME 6: Friday 21 December, 7 pm, RTE lyric fm

Programme 6 of Women of Note brings us the music of the earliest composer in the series and the most recent. Lady Helena Dufferin (1807-1867) was a songwriter, poet and author. She was the author of the immortal words “Och girls, dear, did you ever hear / I wrote my love a letter / and although he cannot read, sure I thought ‘twas all the better’. Some of her songs achieved popularity when they were performed by John Count McCormack. Rhoda Coghill (1903-2000) will be known to generations of music lovers as the long-standing accompanist at RTÉ, although many are not aware that she, too, was also a poet and composer.

The contributors to this programme are Axel Klein, author of Irish Music in the Twentieth Century, Jennifer O’Connor, founder and organiser of the Women and Music in Ireland conference series, and Laura Watson, lecturer in music at NUI Maynooth.

The programme incudes a new performance of Lady Dufferin’s Katey’s Letter by contralto Elizabeth Pink, accompanied by Anthony Byrne on piano, performances of songs by Lady Dufferin by baritone Gavan Ring and pianist Thérėse Fahy. Thérėse Fahy also performs of extracts from Rhoda Coghill’s solo piano piece Gaelic Phantasy.

PRODUCTION

These programmes are made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.