When Dulcie Holland died in 2000, her granddaughter discovered a battered travel journal charting the years the composer spent studying in London. Re-reading her grandmother’s diary, Julie Ihle was struck by the similarities with COVID, and how Holland’s heartbreaking decision to abandon her studies and return home because of World War II affected her music career.

Dulcie Holland
Dulcie Holland portrait from the 1930s, courtesy of Julie Ihle

“Perhaps music is worthwhile after all. Let’s do some work.” These words were written over 80 years ago in London by young music student Dulcie Holland, as World War II threatened and she sought hope amongst the grimness.

As one of Australia’s most distinguished composers and music educators, Dulcie Holland’s career spanned nearly 70 years. She produced...