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Dora Bright

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Dora Bright was a ‘stage star’ before the term ‘star’ had even been invented. After a successful period at the Royal Academy of Music, reports of her ability circulated the globe from America, across Europe and as far as Australia. She became known as one of the finest pianists of her generation and was the first woman to be invited to perform at a Philharmonic Society concert in 1892, where she performed her newly composed Fantasia No. 2. A woman of considerable determination and stamina, she was at the forefront of the English Musical Renaissance at the turn of the twentieth century, and an avid supporter of the music of her friends and colleagues. Marriage did not prevent her from performing and composing, but the death of her husband led to a pause and change of direction in her career as she mourned his loss. Returning to the stage, she became friends with Adeline Genée, and together they returned English ballet to the centre of London Theatre and were key to the creation of the Royal Academy of Dancing.

This book offers the first full-length study of Bright’s inspirational life and work. It takes the reader from the arrival of Dora Bright’s grandfather in Sheffield in 1769 through to her death in 1951. Through a rich variety of archival materials, it provides a public perspective on the life of this important, but now little-known, musician and composer.

Published: Mar 10, 2023

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Anthony Bilton
List of Illustrations Anthony Bilton
Preface Anthony Bilton
Introduction Anthony Bilton
Chapter 1
Contemporaries Anthony Bilton
Chapter 2
The Brights of Sheffield Anthony Bilton
Chapter 3
The Bright Family Anthony Bilton
Chapter 4
The Early Years, 1880-1891 Anthony Bilton
Chapter 5
Mrs. Knatchbull, 1892-1900 Anthony Bilton
Chapter 6
The Dancing Girl, 1900-1907 Anthony Bilton
Chapter 7
London Calling, 1908-1920 Anthony Bilton
Chapter 8
Return to the Country, 1920-1939 Anthony Bilton
Chapter 9
Swansong, 1940-1951 Anthony Bilton
Chapter 10
Women in Music Today Anthony Bilton
Chapter 11
Overview of Major Works Anthony Bilton
Appendix 1 - Catalogue Raisonné 2021 Anthony Bilton
Appendix 2- Dora Bright Family Tree Anthony Bilton
Appendix 3 - Music by Maurice Delara Bright (1825-1902) Anthony Bilton
Appendix 4 - Royal Academy of Music Prizes Anthony Bilton
Appendix 5 - Dedicated Works Anthony Bilton
Appendix 6 - Recorded Works Anthony Bilton
End Matter
Notes Anthony Bilton
References Anthony Bilton
Index Anthony Bilton


The unprecedented success of the recent recording of Dora Bright's Piano Concerto on the SOMM label has sparked a notable revival of interest in her life and work, and this splendid new biography of this hitherto largely unknown musician will surely do much to establish her as one of the main female British composers of her era. This book is both meticulously researched and well written; it is a timely publication that is highly recommended.
Robert Matthew-Walker, Editor Musical Opinion