Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912-1990) enjoyed an outstanding international career as a composer, critic and new music advocate. Born in St Kilda in 1912, her musical abilities were apparent early: upon completing secondary school at 17 she had already decided on a career as a composer. She studied at the Albert Street Conservatorium in East Melbourne and while still in her teens received considerable support from her composition teacher Fritz Hart and the extraordinary publisher, sponsor and all-round musical maverick Louise (Hanson) Dyer.

Peggy Glanville-Hicks

Glanville-Hicks left Melbourne at the age of 20 for London and the Royal College of Music where she studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir Malcolm Sargent and Arthur Benjamin, and later with Egon Wellesz in Vienna and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. She lived in New York City during the 1940s and 50s, continuing to compose while writing increasingly influential music criticism for the New York Herald Tribune under Virgil Thomson. Her intimate friends included the Menuhins, Paul Bowles and John Cage, and her extant compositions include five operas, four ballets, film scores, songs, chamber music and orchestral works.

However, this forceful, empowered exterior concealed a complex set of realities for...