An undated portrait of Elinor Dunsmuir, the granddaughter Craigdarroch Castle builder Robert Dunsmuir. Elinor’s music compositions have recently been uncovered. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Unearthed music compositions written by Dunsmuir heiress

Music discovered in England by Craigdarroch curator to be played this Saturday at GVPL event

A piece of Victoria history fell into Bruce Davies’ lap, and it came in the form of a small wooden box.

Davies, the curator of Craigdarroch Castle, had spent some time in England in a country home occupied by descendants of Robert Dunsmuir, the original builder of the Castle. Davies was hoping to find more photos of the castle or its occupants, but instead came across a box full of original sheet music composed by Dunsmuir’s granddaughter, Elinor.

“It’s extraordinary work; music for plays, trios, chamber music, a piano concerto, and two fully scored out ballets with story lines and parts for all the orchestras,” Davies said. “I knew she was an accomplished musician, but didn’t know she composed.”

To share this discovery with the public, Craigdarroch Castle is partnering with the Greater Victoria Public Library to host a free event Saturday (April 28) called “Elinor Dunsmuir: An Extraordinary Life.”

RELATED: Craigdarroch Castle teams up with library

The event will include an illustrated talk about Elinor and her life, and also offer a listen to some of her work as recorded by University of Victoria graduate Elizabeth Gerow.

The music is described as unusual for the time because in the 1920s, jazz, swing and big band were the norm. Dunsmuir’s work is said to be a unique blend of classical and jazz that shows off her experience living in Europe.

“Elinor found that she didn’t really fit into Victoria society. She liked Europe, she like to gamble and lost a fortune at Monte Carlo before her mother sent for her in the 1930s,” Davies said. “It’s important to note that she was a brilliant person, but that the constricts of the day prevented her from entering the family business.”

RELATED: NEW ERA BEGINS: Victoria’s Craigdarroch Castle expands its operation

All of Dunsmuir’s work is being recorded and Davies hopes to put it onto CDs to be made available to the public in September.

“Elinor Dunsmuir: An Extraordinary Life” runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library, 735 Broughton St. Those wishing to attend are asked to pre-register by calling 250-940-4875 or online at gvpl.ca/event/elinor-dunsmuir-an-extraordinary-life/

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Craigdarroch CastleMusic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria council pushes for December byelection

City staff concerned with timeframe and planning needs prior to byelection

Island Sexual Health expanding physical space and workforce

Island Health looking to hire more health care workers for centre once expansion complete

Charity tackling ‘weekend hunger gap’ bracing for tripling of students in need

Backpack Buddies was serving 1,300 students per week in March, by June that number doubled

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read