Ethel Mary Boyce


Ethel was born on 5 Oct 1863 in Chertsey to George Boyce and Anne Ogden Brown, and died on 3rd March 1936, at her home at The Orchard, Chertsey. She attended the Royal Academy of Music, was a piano pupil of Walter Macfarren, and composition pupil of F.W. Davenport, though was shown in 1891 Census as assist (music), and in 1901 as teacher of music. She never married, though, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Edward German He was briefly engaged to a fellow student, Ethel Boyce, who came from a wealthy Chertsey family, but the engagement was broken off; and both remained single.’ This occurred in student days apparently. She was a close friend of Dora Estella Bright (married name Knatchbull), another pianist and composer. From correspondence in Chertsey Museum, it is clear she travelled widely, and had visited Switzerland and Italy, and wrote also from UK destinations.


The Young Lochinvar, approx 1891, A sequence of Melodies, approx 1917, a set of eight pieces containing a pretty Aubade and alla burla’ in 1899, Five Songs for the Times in 1917 with references to the War, and Orchard Rhymes in the same year on a brighter note, Valse In F. Piano Solo, The Magic Door 1922, The Unison Song, The Lay of the Brown Rosary 1890, a Cantata for Soprano and Contralto Solos, chorus and orchestra, the words adapted from the poem by E. B. Browning, etc, Magdalen at Michael’s Gate, A Carol for four Voices, the words written by H. Kingsley 1893, The Sands of Corriemie, Cantata for female voices 1895, and many more


Entry in British Musical Biography by James D. Brown

Boyce, Ethel Mary, composer and pianist, born at Chertsey, Surrey, October 6th, 1863. Daughter of George Boyce, J.P.
at R A M, pianoforte under Walter Macfarrell, and composition under P. W. Davenport Was Lady Goldsmid Scholar,
1886, Potter Exhibitioner, 1886, won the
Sterndale Bennett Prize the same year, and the Lucas Medal for composition, 1889. Resident in Chertsey as composer and teacher.
RAM., 1890
Works —Cantatas The Lay of the brown rosary (Mrs. Browning), 1890, Young Lochinvar, 1891, The sands of Corremie, female voices, 1896; March in E, orchestra, Westminster Orchestral Society, 1889, Eight pieces, violin and pianoforte (Novello’s albums). Songs—"So she went drifting,” and others. Part-songs “Love has come,” etc. Pianoforte pieces: “To Phyllis”; Short pieces for children, etc.


The Times, 11th March 1936

Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie writes:— The sudden death of Ethel Boyce, A. R. C. M., at her house in Chertsey on February 3 has removed a most remarkable personality well known and much loved by a wide circle of friends, especially in the musical world. Her exceptional talents and the brilliant success of her academic years seemed to indicate a career of high distinction, such as was achieved by several of her friends and contemporaries (Sir Edward German, for example). She won the Lady Goldsmid scholarship in 1885, the Sterndale Bennett prize for pianoforte in l886, and in the same year the Potter exhibition for pianoforte and composition; three years later she was awarded the Charles Lucas medal for composition. But domestic trouble, and her characteristic and completely self-sacrificing devotion to personal duty, prevented her from fulfilling her remarkable promise. Some charming and very individual compositions remain to show what she might have done; and no one who had the privilege of her acquaintance will forget the range and force of her conversation, her extra-ordinarily wide knowledge, and the justice of her opinions, not only in music but in literature and the graphic arts also, and her strong, candid, irascible, and entirely kindly personality.

The Musical Times, Vol. 77, No. 1118 (Apr., 1936), p. 368

ETHEL BOYCE, A. R. C. M. on February 3. Born 1863. she won the Lady Goldsmid scholarship in 1885 and in the following year the Sterndale Bennett prize for piano and the Potter Exhibition for piano composition. In 1869 she also won the Charles Lucas medal for composition. The career thus foreshadowed was sacrificed to other calls of a private character, and it is only a handful of works that testify to vivacious talent. Among them are some attractive part-songs for juvenile and female voice choirs, and a mixed-voice cantata, ‘The Lay of the Brown Rosary.’

The Times, 20th April 1936

Among the latest wills are the following: -

Boyce, Miss Ethel Mary, of Chertsey, daughter of the late George Boyce , J. P., C.C. (nett personalty £6,972)     £11,635

I discovered a biography of Ethel in German on this site Click here

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Newspaper report of Ann Ogden Boyce’s funeral and obituary