Thursday, 25 July 2013

Miriam Hyde's Centenary

Today as I listened to Classic Breakfast with Emma Ayres I learnt that it's Miriam Hyde's centenary year. I also learnt there was an Australian composer called Miriam Hyde. Looks like maybe I should've known this already and I admit her face rings vague bells but really, how many Australian composers can you name? How many women composers? So how many Australian women ... anyway the point is I now know about her and would like to hear more of her music.

There's a good biography of her at the Australia Music Centre's website (click here for that). Turns out she was a successful composer, pianist, poet and musical educator with an OBE and AO and the International Woman of the Year (1991-2). Her piano concerti were performed by major English orchestras in the 1920s too, with her as the soloist.

Most of her music appears to have been written for piano, including learning pieces of various levels, some set to her poems. I found this performance of one on YouTube entitled Forest Stream and it does seem to flow and bubble as a stream winding through a forest and over rocks might do.

From that page I found a link to a recording - possibly of the WASO in 1965 with her as soloist but I can't swear to that - of her second Piano Concerto. It also has some text from a Keys to Music program Graham Abbott must have run last year about Miriam Hyde the composer. And I'm glad the link was there. It's a very good concerto, full of drama and virtuosity without being a show-off piece, and quite Romantic in feel, at least to my ear.

There was also this short Reverie, which may be one of her 'exam' pieces but has a lovely dream like quality to it; and this in turn led me to a piece called Spring. This performance is for an exam but still the piece is a wonderful evocation of that season so beloved of artists.

Which in a strange way leads me to what I will finish with, a quote from Miriam Hyde on music and her compositions - I feel my music can be a refuge for what beauty and peace can still be omnipresent...the triumph of good over evil. I make no apologies for writing from the heart.

I think we can all be thankful she did.

PS Closing tabs I discovered this performance of her Fantasy Trio by Trio Fidelis, and it's a good closer. There's more out there - get listening!

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