An Unforgettable Woman: The Life and Times of Rosa Newmarch

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Rosa Newmarch (1857-1940) was an extraordinary woman. Nowadays, she is best known as the programme writer for the Promenade Concerts from 1908 to 1926. But, equally important, she was instrumental in introducing to the English concert-going public, music by many Russian composers, Sibelius and Czech composers, particularly Janacek. Janacek's music was hardly known in Britain until Rosa Newmarch organised his visit to Britain in 1926. A talented and intelligent individual, she was brought up bilingual, and by 1911 she had mastered so many languages that she became a member of the Polyglot Club. From the time she was about twenty until her death at the age of 82, she published 23 books and numerous articles. Rosa had a very wide circle of acquaintances and friends in the musical world, including Balakirev, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sibelius, Greig, Elgar, Bantock, Busoni, Lamond, Shalyapin, and Sir Henry Wood. She married Henry Newmarch in 1883. In 1934, when she was 76, she began writing her autobiography, but failed to complete it before she died in 1940. Her daughter made strenuous attempts to complete it after her death but found it difficult, partly because of painful aspects of family life when Rosa's marriage nearly broke up. Her daughter's work was never published. This account is based on Rosa's autobiography together with her daughter's additions and further research by the author who is particularly indebted to much encouragement and help from Rosa's sole surviving grand-daughter.