Lived1897 – 1984
Mostly inMelbourne
Best known for Haunted Hills, String Quartets, Violin Concerto
Similar toVaughan Williams, Stravinsky, Ireland, Bartók

“The world at large thinks a woman can’t be creative. A woman can contribute in a special way. I don’t think that women want to write the same type of thing as men, but their contribution is no less important. My musical life has been a frustration of half promises, then bad performances, followed by no more performances”.– James Murdoch, Australia’s Contemporary Composers

Those poignant words were spoken by Margaret Sutherland (1897-1984), the mother of modern Australian classical music. Through her travels, compositions and her musical activism, Sutherland brought an indifferent Australian public to terms with the musical currents of the early 20th century. This, despite the fact that her last completed work was her first ever commission, that she was refused publication by Boosey & Hawkes after they discovered ‘M. Sutherland’ was a woman, and that she was married for two decades to a man who thought composing music was a sign of mental illness in a woman.

Composer Margaret Sutherland

Sutherland grew up in post-colonial...