As newsletter editor of the Dvořák Society for Czech and Slovak Music, the author first came to know of Rosa Newmarch (1857-1940) through her book Music of Czechoslovakia (1942). Although the book is now a little dated it remains a very comprehensive study of the music of Czechoslovakia from its Bohemian origins up until the early 1930s.
However this was only one facet of Rosa Newmarch’s prolific writings on music and today she is best known as the programme writer for the Promenade concerts from 1908 to 1926. She wrote several books on Russian music including the first biography of Tchaikovsky in English, and played an important role in introducing Russian music to British audiences in the early 20th century through her long friendship with Sir Henry Wood. She also did much to promote the music of Sibelius whom she knew over many years. In addition she published two volumes of her poetry.
Rosa organised Janáček’s only visit to London in 1926, and recently Radio 4 ran a programme on her friendship with Janáček entitled Leoš and Rosa . She travelled extensively in Russia, Czechoslovakia, France and Italy. She had many acquaintances, not only the world of music but also in the arts and politics. When she retired she was presented with a Blüthner grand piano to which over 130 eminent people from the world of music, the arts and public life contributed.
The author, a retired academic scientist who has published a textbook and two monographs on his scientific specialism, has had a long interest in music. He was fortunate to meet Rosa’s sole surviving grand-daughter. When Rosa died she left an incomplete unpublished autobiography. With support and help from Rosa’s grand-daughter, who made available to him many of her writings and unpublished letters, the author has been able to edit and complete the story of the life of the woman whom Sibelius described as une femme inoubliable.