Alice Mary Smith

Alice Mary Smith was a prolific 19th-century English composer. She is best remembered in the clarinet community for her Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in A (1870).

Alice Mary Smith (1839 – 1884)

Alice Mary Smith, married name Alice Mary Meadows White (19 May 1839 – 4 December 1884) was an English composer. Her compositions included two symphonies and a large collection of choral works, both sacred and secular.

Smith was born in London, the third child of a relatively well-to-do family. She showed aptitude for music from her early years and took lessons privately from William Sterndale Bennett and George Alexander Macfarren, publishing her first song in 1857. In November 1867, the year of her marriage to a lawyer, Frederick Meadows White, she was elected Female Professional Associate of the Royal Philharmonic Society. In 1884 she was elected an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music. The same year, after a period of illness in which she went abroad to try to recover, she died of typhoid fever in London.

Smith enjoyed a long and prolific career. Among her numerous instrumental works are four piano quartets, three string quartets, a clarinet sonata (1870), six concert overtures, and two symphonies. Smith’s oeuvre also includes one of the largest collections of sacred choral music by a woman composer, and comprises six anthems, three canticles (and the beginning to a fourth), as well as a short Sacred Cantata Exile, based on episodes from Jean Racine’s Esther.

Henry Lazarus at the clarinet and Smith at the piano gave the inaugural performance of her Clarinet Sonata in December, 1870. At the time, the work was titled Duo Concertante for Pianoforte and Clarinet in A1. The second movement of her sonata also exists in a format for clarinet and orchestra, although the reason for its existence in this arrangement is, at this time, unclear. Should you have any information about this work and its subsequent arrangement for clarinet and orchestra, please let us know to help us improve the catalogue.

Since 2010, Smith’s manuscripts have been housed in the Royal Academy of Music Library.

Read her full biography on


Clarinet Sonata | 1870
Clarinet and Piano or Orchestra
Purchase for clarinet and piano

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