© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Virginia Woolf Music

Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth was a composer of opera and chamber music and a close friend of Virginia Woolf (some believe the two women were more than just friends, but whatever). She was also a leader of the women's suffrage movement in Britain. She composed the tune "The March of the Women," a song that became the anthem for women demanding the right to vote.

Music from the Diary of Virginia Woolf

Dominick Argento Though she wasn't musically inclined herself, Virginia Woolf said that she thought of her books like pieces of music. Others have thought of her words that way as well. Inspired by her posthumously published diaries, American composer Dominick Argento set excerpts of the journal to choral music. He received the Pulitzer Prize for the song cycle in 1975.

Amy Beach

Amy Beach was an American composer and contemporary of Virginia Woolf's who created the first symphony written by an American woman. Like Woolf, she was entirely self-taught. Her career was hampered by her era's strict gender roles—her husband forebade her to play more than one performance per year, and it was only after his death that she was able to travel the world as a musician. Beach and Ethel Smyth collaborated at times. Woolf would almost certainly have been familiar with her music.


Princeton We love literary rockers. This album from the L.A.-based trio Princeton pays homage to the members of Bloomsbury, with four songs inspired by different members ("Viriginia Woolf" has lyrics like "And she missed her mark, the ink is dry now./ What's on the wall, will never be known, to her alone/ And I find, that in my lifetime, no words will stay or haunt in that way.") Possibly the only band in history to record a single inspired by economist John Maynard Keynes. Check out their website, which profiles the members of Bloomsbury along with the band.

"Virginia Woolf"

Indigo GirlsVirginia Woolf continues to inspire artists of many genres. The folk-rock duo Indigo Girls recorded a song in homage to Virginia Woolf for their 1992 album "Rites of Passage." The lyrics are lovely; have a listen.

"Shakespeare's Sister"

The SmithsIn A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf imagines Shakespeare's (fictional) sister, a woman of equal literary ability as her brother who is unable to realize her talent because of the restrictions placed on her gender. The 1980s English rock band The Smiths wrote a song in homage to this fictional frustrated writer. Oi!

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...