Songs of Sunrise is a weekly newsletter about music, books, and culture. It’s about the hidden stories in music history, the tales that haven’t been told. If you are curious about classical music and want to start exploring, or already love classical music and want to discover something new every week, then this is the newsletter for you.

It’s written by Leah Broad, author of Quartet: How Four Women Changed the Musical World. I’m currently a researcher at the University of Oxford where I’ve taught for the last eight years — when you subscribe to Songs of Sunrise you are getting access to years of my research that you won’t find anywhere else. I also work as a journalist and broadcaster. For example you can hear me talking on the BBC about women composers here, read some thoughts about music and fashion for the Guardian here, and scroll down for more of my writing/broadcasting.

There’s more info about me on my website (including details of events I’m speaking at!), and you can follow me on Twitter, BlueSky and Instagram.

Why Songs of Sunrise?

The composer Ethel Smyth was one of the most extraordinary figures of music history. In an era when it was thought not just improbable but biologically impossible for women to compose “great” music, Smyth composed six operas, became the first woman to receive a Damehood for composition, and received three honorary doctorates for music. As if that wasn’t enough she also wrote eleven books, wrote the anthem of the suffrage movement (and conducted it from a prison window with her toothbrush), and was an excellent golfer. Also owned many adorable dogs.

Among Smyth’s many compositions are three suffrage songs called Songs of Sunrise. The songs are everything I admire most about Smyth and her music: they’re optimistic, earnest, energetic, and she’s trying to lift other women up through her compositions. That’s the kind of energy I want to bring with this newsletter.

Impatient for the next issue? You can listen to/read…

Quartet: How Four Women Changed the Musical World: my group biography of Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Dorothy Howell and Doreen Carwithen.

Hidden Women, Silenced Scores’: BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature on Dorothy Howell, Doreen Carwithen, & Avril Coleridge-Taylor.

An Unconventional Teacher’: BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature exploring Vaughan Williams’ legacy as a teacher of women composers.

Composer of the Week: Doreen Carwithen: Exploring Carwithen’s life and music on BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week.

Music Matters: A look at Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers with Kate Molleson on BBC Radio 3.

Music Matters: A discussion with Tom Service and Rhiannon Mathias on BBC Radio 3 about gender representation in musicology and music journalism.

Record Review: Reviewing a DVD release of Paavo Berglund conducting Sibelius’s Symphonies, on BBC Radio 3 (starts 1.42.00).

Lost at Sea’: A short introduction to Doreen Carwithen’s ‘Bishop Rock’.

A Quartet of Musical Superwomen’: Exploring the opening of ‘The Cave of the Golden Calf’ nighclub, set up by entrepreneur Frida Strindberg.

Celeb-Spotting Stories’: The life of soprano Adelina Patti.

Fashion, fabrics & fishtails: why we need to talk about what female classical performers wear: Article for the Guardian and classical music and fashion.

Ethel Smyth & Classical Music’s Forgotten Women: Article for the Guardian about composer Ethel Smyth.

Ruth Gipps: A profile of Ruth Gipps for BBC Music Magazine.

Rebecca Clarke: A profile of Rebecca Clarke for BBC Music Magazine.

Doreen Carwithen: A profile of Doreen Carwithen for BBC Music Magazine.

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Music, history, and some things inbetween.


Leah Broad

I'm a writer, historian and presenter. I write mainly about the lost and forgotten, and especially about women in music. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Bluesky @LeahBroad.