Results for Edward Sydney Smith Smith (not all results may be relevant):
Described (rather brusquely by Percy Scholes, in his inimitable style, in "The Oxford Companion to Music [10th ed], OUP) as:
"... He was a noted pianist and piano teacher in London and cleverly composed brilliant nothings for his instrument. They had enormous vogue for many years."
His numerous solo piano compositions (including his famous "Tarantellas") would be found in the old Victorian piano albums in many households.
(Edward) Sydney Smith was born in the small Dorset town of Dorchester
two years after his elder brother, Boyton Smith (1837–1911) who was
also a celebrated composer (whose work also forms part of our
collection) Their father, William Frederick, had a school of music
and dancing in the town, and the boys received their first musical
education from him and his wife, Helen (nee Boyton).
The local newspaper of the period records the many concerts given by
the Smith family whilst the boys were still young and Sydney usually
played the ‘cello and Boyton played the piano.
In 1855 the 16 year old Sydney went to Leipzig to study piano, cello
and composition with the best masters of the day at Mendelssohn’s
Conservatory. Whilst there, he greatly impressed The Crown Prince of
Prussia with his talent, and he returned home in 1859.
The following year he was advised to move to London where he embarked
on a career as a Piano Teacher, Composer and Recitalist, and he
became hugely famous in England, America, The Continent and
Australia. His piano compositions were published in all these
countries and sold well. Two or three times a year, assisted by his
best pupils, he would give concerts in London and elsewhere, playing
his latest pieces in addition to the virtuoso repertoire of the day.
Especially popular were his elaborate transcriptions of favourite
operas at which he excelled, and some of these are still popular today.
On the whole, Smith confined his piano writing so that it would be
accessible to talented amateur players, but this was not always the
case, some of the pieces are very demanding indeed. His career
lasted for nearly thirty years, but sadly declined towards the end
due to a severe cancer he was suffering. He married and prospered,
and fathered five children. His wife Hannah died young in 1886
leaving the younger children in the care of a French nurse, whom
Sydney married in 1887, two years before his death.
In all, Sydney Smith wrote around 400 compositions, all for piano
except for a handful of songs. He is remembered, if at all, by his
early work, some of which has been recorded. Gradually, it is
planned to record more of his work, to be made available on the
The Sydney Smith Archive in London is the home of all the sheet
music, in addition to several thousand pieces by other lost Victorian
Should anyone have any additional information about this Composer we
would be pleased to hear from them.