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Lucy Etheldred Broadwood

(1858—1929) musician and folk-song collector


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(1858–1929).

A member of the Broadwood piano family and thus comfortably off, well connected, and musical, she lived in Sussex and London. Lucy's uncle, John Broadwood, had published a collection of Sussex folk songs in 1843, and she herself started collecting songs in the neighbourhood of the family home. In 1893, her book, English County Songs, edited with her cousin J. A. Fuller-Maitland, burst on the musical scene which had just started to take folk song seriously. The book was enormously influential, and immediately placed Lucy Broadwood at the centre of the new movement, and she was thus involved in setting up the Folk-Song Society in 1898. She served the new society in various capacities—Secretary, Editor, President—for the rest of her life, and thus worked in close contact with all the major figures of the time, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, and Frank Kidson, often as their mentor and adviser. Broadwood's scholarship and broad knowledge of a wide range of musical forms were formidable and belie the image of dilettante maiden aunt with which educated women of her era are often dismissed. She continued to collect in Surrey and Sussex and elsewhere in England as opportunity arose, and also made important discoveries in Co. Waterford in 1906 (JFSS 3 (1907), 3–38). Although she certainly ‘softened’ and adapted texts, like most of her contemporaries, her editorial standards set a high example which influenced the way the Society viewed and presented its material. Lucy Broadwood had problems reconciling the respect she had for the songs and the singers with popularizing movements such as represented by Cecil Sharp. It is a great pity that she did not publish any sustained pieces of opinion, but mainly restricted herself to annotations in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society and in her three books of songs: English County Songs (with J. A. Fuller-Maitland, 1893); Sussex Songs (with H. F. Birch Reynardson, 1889); English Traditional Songs and Carols (1908).

Margaret Dean-Smith, JEFDSS 9:5 (1964), 233–68;Ralph Vaughan Williams, JEFDSS 5:3 (1948), 136–9;Frank Howes, ED&S 30:1 (1968), 14–15;Gammon, 1980: 61–89.

Subjects: Music.


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