Madeleine Dring

BookMadeleine Dring

Madeleine Dring

Lady Composer

Clemson University Press


September 12th, 2020



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Madeleine Dring: Lady Composer is a biography that examines the British composer's life and music, supported by extensive archival research and primary sources. With London at its center, the story of Dring’s life follows her through formal training in the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music, the horrors of World War II, the lively atmosphere of revues in the West End, the lack of recognition during her final years, and her premature death from a brain aneurysm at the age of fifty-three. Her contributions to the diverse musical worlds of popular song, serious music, radio, and television are surveyed, with attention to the qualities that characterize her distinctive musical style. The narrative arc is compelling: education as a classical composer, success on the popular stage, return to “serious” composition, and death when her art was at the highest level. An underlying theme is the encouragement and success Dring experienced in a profession that is typically the domain of men. Her achievement as a composer is due to the excellence of her music, which is increasingly being appreciated for its imagination and sophistication, as evidenced by numerous performances and recordings.


‘A fulfilling and insightful book on multiple levels that will appear to anyone interested in the byways of light music as well as to those wishing to make a study.'
Dan Adams, The Magazine of the Light Music Society

'Wanda Brister and Jay Rosenblatt have done a meticulous job bringing Dring's remarkable story to life... This welcome new biography sheds light on an iconoclastic composer's brilliant musical mind, and compels us to reconsider her compositional output. The lady composer Madeleine Dring certainly deserves our greater attention.'
Stephen Caplan, The Double Reed

'This thoroughly researched collaboration is a valuable addition to the literature about Madeleine Dring.'
Debra Greschner, Journal of Singing

'Madeleine Dring, Lady Composer, is a work that should be acquired by all music libraries and read by all. It is an inspiring and thoughtful account of a remarkable person and a true creative.'
George Caird, Double Reed News

'In Madeleine Dring: Lady Composer the authors have managed to convey the successful life of a working freelance woman composer. [...] An unbelievable amount of effort was obviously expended by the authors to trace and document her unpublished and unrecorded work but the best and most moving part of the book is the personal writing about daily life, music, art and war by the young Madeleine Dring.'
Erin Hackel, Kapralova Society Journal

Author Information

Wanda Brister is Associate Professor at Florida State University where she teaches voice and sacred vocal literature. After the release of all of the published vocal music of Madeleine Dring in 2013, Brister began to focus on pieces that had not been published. She has been responsible for publishing 82 pieces and recording 47 of them, plus the release of Dring’s only opera, Cupboard Love. She sponsored a recital at FSU to celebrate the composer’s 95th birthday at which 21 artists participated, performing 25 of her works. Jay Rosenblatt is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Arizona, where he has taught since 1995. He has degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His principal scholarly work is devoted to the life and music of Franz Liszt, with extensive archival research and transcriptions, and publications include articles in various journals and editions of Liszt’s music. In addition to his scholarly contributions, Rosenblatt has written program notes on a wide variety of repertory. He has also lectured widely, both at scholarly conferences and for local concert societies.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Musical Examples17
Prologue: In Search of the Lady Composer21
1. The Lady Composer Makes Her Entrance: Youth and Formative Years (1923–33)27
2. The Lady Composer Takes Her First Steps: Junior Exhibitioner (1933–41)39
Interlude: The Lady Composer in Her Own Words: Diaries (1935–43)75
3. The Lady Composer Learns Her Craft: The Royal College of Music (1941–45)107
4. The Lady Composer Steps Out: First Professional Engagements (1946–52)135
5. The Lady Composer in Demand: Composing, Acting, Singing (1953–67)169
6. The Lady Composer at the End: The Last Ten Years (1967–77)225
Coda: The Lady Composer in Print275
Epilogue: The Lady Composer Rediscovered279
Appendix A: Catalog of Works283
Appendix B: Personnel in West End Revues309
Index of Works363
General Index371