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Dr Christopher Wiley delivers paper at Collaborating Couples conference at the University of Bristol

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Dr Christopher Wiley presented a paper at a two-day international conference entitled ‘Beyond Genius and Muse – Collaborating Couples in Twentieth-Century Arts’, held at the Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol on 18–19 April 2017.

Dr Wiley’s paper, Subject and Countersubject: The Prevalence of the Genius and the Muse in Musical Biography’, explored the pattern of collaborating couples that has emerged historically in musical biography, drawing on examples including Brahms and Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth and Henry Brewster, Britten and Peter Pears, and Adele.

It built upon Dr Wiley’s previous scholarship conducted in this area across more than 10 years, of which the most recent output, his book chapter ‘Musical Biography and the Myth of the Muse’, was published in 2015.

The conference brought together some 50 academics from across Europe and the US, encompassing a range of topics in music, literature, and the visual arts.

Further information is available at the conference website: https://collaboratingcouples.wordpress.com/

Victoria Rooms

Dr Christopher Wiley gives talk on Dame Ethel Smyth for Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group

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Ethel SmythDr Christopher Wiley presented a talk entitled ‘The Composer Dame Ethel Smyth and her Deafness’ at the Millmead Centre, Guildford on 26 January 2015, for Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group.

Smyth, who was active as composer, writer, and suffragette, was afflicted by distorted hearing and deafness for the last several decades of her life, particularly from the later 1910s until her death in 1944.

An acknowledged expert on Smyth, Dr Wiley has previously given public talks on the artist at the University of Surrey and The Women’s Library, London, as well as writing for the OUP Blog and organizing a recital of Smyth’s music to commemorate the 70th anniversary of her death last year.

Dr Christopher Wiley delivers paper on musical biography at Monash University, Melbourne

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Dr Christopher Wiley was among the speakers who presented at the ‘Words About Music’ conference held at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia on 12 April 2014.

Dr Wiley’s paper, ‘Music and (or?) Musical Biography’, examined aspects of the complex relationship between the life and the works in a range of composer biographies. Using case studies drawn from several different areas of his wider research – including the celebrated story of Mozart’s Requiem, the original volumes of the ‘Master Musicians’ series, and the autobiographical writings of Ethel Smyth – Dr Wiley illustrated how biographical narrative may shed much direct light on the music, or very little, or may even present a contradictory perspective from that evident from the score itself.

Held at Monash University Law Chambers, the international conference brought together scholars from across Australia and the UK, representing a range of disciplines including musicology, literature, history, and sociology.

Monash University logo

Ethel Smyth Symposium at the University of Surrey features Dr Christopher Wiley as speaker and performer

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Dr Christopher Wiley addresses Ethel Smyth SymposiumDr Christopher Wiley contributed to a Symposium dedicated to Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), the Surrey-based composer and writer also noted for her suffrage activity in the early 1910s, which was held in the Performing Arts Technology Studios at the University of Surrey on 19 February. This was the University’s first ever event for LGBT History Month, for which Smyth was named as one of the faces of the 2014 theme of Music.

Introduced by Professor Diane Watt, Head of the University’s School of English and Languages, the Symposium commenced with a talk by Dr Wiley entitled ‘Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944): In Search of a Lesbian Identity in Music and Literature’, in which he discussed possible ways of interpreting Smyth’s artistic output as reflecting her sexual identity and feminist sensibilities, with musical illustrations provided by Maureen Galea (piano) and the University Chamber Choir. 

A drinks reception followed the talk, during which audience members were able to view the ‘Musical Passions’ exhibition celebrating the life of Ethel Smyth, provided courtesy of Surrey History Centre.

Drinks Reception at Ethel Smyth Symposium

The Symposium closed with a concert of solo, chamber, and vocal works by Ethel Smyth, featuring staff and students of the University including pianists Maureen Galea and Margaret Roberts, Isabella Stocchetti (flute), and Christopher Wiley (oboe), as well as the University Chamber Choir. Highlights included a performance of Smyth’s Violin Sonata with guest artist Sophie Langdon and the Head of Performance, Professor Clive Williamson. The full programme was as follows:

  • Two Interlinked French Folk Melodies (1928, from the opera Entente cordiale) for flute, oboe, and piano (Isabella Stocchetti, flute; Christopher Wiley, oboe; Margaret Roberts, piano)
  • Aus der Jugendzeit!! E. v. H. (c.1878–80) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • Ethel Smyth TrioNocturne (Kanon in Gegenbewegung) (c.1877–80) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano in A minor, Op. 7 (1877) (Sophie Langdon, violin; Clive Williamson, piano)
  • Variations on Bonny Sweet Robin (Ophelia’s Song) (1928) (Isabella Stocchetti, flute; Christopher Wiley, oboe; Margaret Roberts, piano)
  • Overture to the opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Piano transcription (1913–14) (Maureen Galea, piano)
  • ‘Laggard Dawn’ and ‘The March of the Women’ (Nos. 1 & 3 from Songs of Sunrise, 1910) (University Chamber Choir, cond. Isabella Stocchetti, dir. Russell Keable; Maureen Galea, piano)

Audience at Ethel Smyth SymposiumThe Symposium was held in association with the University of Surrey Equality and Diversity, the School of Arts, the School of English and Languages, LGBT History Month, and Surrey History Centre. Both the talk and the concert were attended by around 50 people, including staff and students of the University and external visitors.

Further information

Event website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/arts/music/events/ethel_smyth.htm
Poster: http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/LGBT-History-Month-Final-2014-21-01-14.pdf
Surrey History Centre: http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/lgbt-2014/

Update

An academic response to Dr Wiley’s talk, ‘Musical Inversions: Ethel Smyth’ by Dr Heike Bauer (Birkbeck University of London), appeared on the blog A Violent World of Difference on 21 February 2014: http://violentworldofdifference.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/21-feb-2014-musical-inversions-ethel-smyth/

Dr Christopher Wiley presents research seminar at the University of Surrey

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Ethel Smyth and Virginia Woolf (R-L)Dr Christopher Wiley presented a research seminar based on his paper ‘Music and Literature: Ethel Smyth, Virginia Woolf, and “The First Woman to Write an Opera”’ at a research seminar hosted by the School of Arts at the University of Surrey on 20 November 2013.

Dr Wiley joined the University of Surrey in September 2013 following a nine-year tenure at City University London. One aspect of his research concerns the intellectual dialogue between Ethel Smyth and Virginia Woolf (pictured, R-L). The article on which his paper is based is being published in the refereed journal The Musical Quarterly.

Sandi Toksvig, Dr Christopher Wiley, and Velvet Fist at The Women’s Library, London – Tuesday 27 September, 18:30-20.00

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Sandi Toksvig
Dr Christopher Wiley
appeared alongside writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig at The Women’s Library, London on Tuesday 27 September, providing an introduction to the life, works, and suffrage activity of Ethel Smyth.

Dr Wiley has been researching and writing on Ethel Smyth for over a decade, including a groundbreaking article on Smyth’s intellectual relationship with Virginia Woolf, published in one of the UK’s foremost journals of musicology, Music and Letters.

The event, entitled ‘Shout! Shout! Up With Your Song!’, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first performance of Smyth’s celebrated suffragette anthem ‘March of the Women’, and also featured a recital by the acclaimed a capella feminist choir Velvet Fist.

The flier for the event is available for download here.