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Ina Boyle (1889–1967)

Ina BoyleIna Boyle was a prolific composer of vocal, choral, chamber and instrumental music, but her works are rarely performed today and few were published. She lived all her life in the family home, Bushey Park, Enniskerry, in the shadow of the great Sugarloaf. Her first music lessons were with her father, the Reverend William Foster Boyle, who was curate at St Patrick’s Church, Powerscourt. With her younger sister, Phyllis, she was taught the violin and cello by their governess, and she started to compose at an early age.

She studied composition with several private teachers in Dublin and entered works for competitions, while she was carer for her parents and sister, and looked after the family home and estate. She had her greatest success with the orchestral rhapsody The Magic Harp, which was selected for publication in 1920 by the prestigious Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. She was the only woman composer to be honoured by the scheme.

From 1923 she crossed the Irish Sea by steamship for lessons with Ralph Vaughan Williams, who thought highly of her music and encouraged her to have it performed. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Second World War ended her travels and cut her off from musical opportunities in London. She continued to compose throughout her life, and never ceased to promote her music by sending scores to conductors and choir directors. Her friend Elizabeth Maconchy noted that as a result of her isolation she made few musical contacts, and her work remained little known and almost unperformed, a situation of unfair neglect that continued until the present welcome revival of interest in her achievement.

Biography courtesy of Ita Beausang. Further information can be found at www.inaboyle.org.

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