Elinor Dunsmuir (right) pictured with her mother Laura, likely in the 1930s on the family’s property at Hatley Park. Elinor’s life and music will be the subject of a presentation this weekend by UVic graduate Elizabeth Gerow. (Royal Roads University archives)

Elinor Dunsmuir’s music was unique for the time period

University of Victoria graduate will perform pieces written by Elinor at Hatley Castle

Although Elinor Dunsmuir died nearly 80 years ago, University of Victoria graduate Elizabeth Gerow feels a strong connection to the early 20th century noblewoman and her music.

“It’s like I’m reliving the early 1900s through Elinor’s music,” she said. “It’s like time travel.”

Gerow, who majored in vocal performance, recalls visiting Craigdarroch and Hatley castles throughout her youth, but it wasn’t until she started to research Elinor’s music that her interest in the daughter of James and Laura Dunsmuir really took off.

Put simply, Elinor’s compositions didn’t match what one might expect to hear from an era dominated by jazz, swing and big band.

“The first song that I sung was called Somebody and Nobody,” she recalled. “It was short but it was so complete in itself … it was so unexpected for the 1920s.”

“When I heard this song it just sounded really different. This had not fit into any of the categories that I remembered learning about [at university].”

Add in the fact that there is strong evidence to suggest that she was gay and that she threw away much of her riches at the casinos of Monte Carlo, and Elinor makes for an all-around intriguing personality to match her unique music.

Lately, Gerow has spent much of her time transposing the manuscripts of Elinor’s compositions using Sibelius, a popular scorewriter computer program.

These handwritten songs have included pieces of all lengths, even full ballets.

While it wasn’t for a lack of trying – she is known to have pitched her work to Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev –much of Elinor’s music never made it beyond Hatley Castle and has remained unknown to the public to this day.

Gerow hopes that can change and that the Dunsmuir daughter can gain some posthumous notoriety for her work.

“I would just like famous scholars and people who are learning about music history and writing about music history to know about Elinor. I would like people to hear what I hear, to hear how unique it is.”

Gerow, accompanied by pianist Jannie Burdeti, will give an audience at Hatley Castle a chance to discover Elinor’s music and learn more about her life this Saturday in a soldout event organized by the West Shore Arts Council.

Whatever the Cost – Hatley Park and the Dunsmuirs, a documentary produced by Victoria filmmakers David Springbett and Heather MacAndrew will also be shown as part of the event.

joel.tansey@goldstream

gazette.com

Just Posted

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

LGBTQ advocates turn Victoria SOGI protest into dance party

Counter-protest outnumbers anti-SOGI activists on lawn of B.C. legislature

Tsawout hosts Saanich Peninsula community leaders at blanket ceremony

Reconciliation event meant to share the Indigenous exerience

WATCH:First responders score first, take inaugural Challenge Cup in Oak Bay

Ice hockey game raises funds for Cops for Cancer, encourages positive interaction with youth

Amazing Race Canada kicks off at Hatley Castle

Popular reality TV show will premiere later this year

UPDATED: 9 killed, 16 injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Toronto police say nine people have died and 16 are injured

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Scooter crash leaves Island man with critical injuries

RCMP said a truck was making a left-hand turn when it collided with the scooter travelling through the intersection

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

Most Read