White, Maude Valerie (1855–1937)

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White, Maude Valerie (1855–1937)

English composer and writer who created some 200 songs over the course of her career . Name variations: Maude Valérie White. Born in Dieppe, France, on June 23, 1855; died in London, England, on November 2, 1937; studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, 1876–79.

Maude Valerie White was a composer, translator and writer best known for some 200 songs she wrote, most of them in the style of the Victorian drawing-room ballad. She was born to English parents in Dieppe, France, in 1855, and studied with several eminent music teachers, including W.S. Rockstro and Oliver May. She also studied with G.A. Macfarren during her three years at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1879, her last year at the academy, she became the first woman to win the prestigious Mendelssohn Scholarship. Two years later, however, the ill health that plagued her throughout her life forced her to give up the scholarship, and she began traveling through Europe and South America in search of a curative climate.

White's travels gave her the opportunity to sharpen her linguistic skills, and she became an able translator. She translated several books into English, as well as poems by Hugo, Heine and others which she used as texts for her songs. Among the English poems which she set to music was Byron's "So we'll go no more a roving," which some critics consider her best work. She also produced several French songs noted for their spirited harmony. Lyricism is generally agreed to have been her greatest strength, although her work has been criticized for sentimentality. Besides her many songs, she also wrote instrumental works and music for the ballet The Enchanted Heart (1913).

A friend of American actress Mary Anderson (1859–1940), White moved in artistic circles, and met both Shelley and Byron. She wrote two volumes of autobiography, Friends and Memories (1914) and My Indian Summer (1932), and died in London in 1937, at the age of 82.


Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Vol. 20. London: Macmillan, 1980.

Uglow, Jennifer S., ed. The International Dictionary of Women's Biography. NY: Continuum, 1985.

Angela Woodward , M.A., Madison, Wisconsin

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White, Maude Valerie (1855–1937)

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