Carola Darwin

Classical singer
Lecturer and writer

Photo ©Emma Darwin

About Carola Darwin

Carola Darwin combines a career as an opera and concert singer with research and writing about music. She trained at Royal Northern College of Music, and went on to gain a PhD from the University of Sheffield.

Carola has recently signed a contract with Equinox publishing to write a book on women musicians in early 20th-century Vienna. In the week of 6th March 2023, she will be interviewed on Radio 3  when Johanna Müller-Hermann is Composer of the Week.

In 2019, Carola commissioned a song-cycle by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, based on poems about evolution and the environment, which she premièred at the Oxford Lieder Festival and performed again at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge .

Operatic roles include Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen, Surrey Opera), Countess (The Marriage of Figaro, Opera! Festival, Netherlands), Berta, (The Barber of Seville, Opera East) Sofia (I Lombardi, UCOpera) She has also sung Governess (The Turn of the Screw) Mimi (La Bohème) Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Pat Nixon (Nixon in China). Concert work includes a series with the Hermitage String Quartet, Héloise in Maconchy’s Héloise and Abelard, and solos for Park Lane Group’s Celebration for Elizabeth (Purcell Room). ​ Her multi-media one-woman show The Vienna Show: Music and Gender in fin-de-siècle Vienna has been seen in Winnipeg, Canada and also in London, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Carola is currently an Academic Professor at the Royal College of Music, where she teaches History of Music, including a course on Women in Music. She was selected in 2016 to research the life and work of the Viennese composer Johanna Müller-Hermann,  as part of the BBC/AHRC’s  Forgotten Women Composers project. Her article ‘Odaline de la Martinez: conductor, composer, entrepreneur, leader’ is due to be published in The Routledge Companion to Women in Music Leadership in 2023. She is also working on a book The Other Voice: Women’s musical creativity in Alma Mahler’s Vienna.

News highlights

Richard Strauss Four Last Songs

Traveller’s Club, Pall Mall, 25th March 2024

I’ll be singing Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs again at the Traveller’s Club in Mayfair, with Marie-Noëlle Kendall on the piano. We’ll also perform songs and piano music by Alban Berg, Johanna Müller-Hermann and Johannes Brahms.

St Anne’s Church, Highgate 1st December 2023

It was a great joy to perform Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the wonderful pianist Marie-Noëlle Kendall in December. The concert also included songs by Johanna Müller-Hermann, and we were joined by the cellist Peter Rayner, who performed cello sonatas by Brahms and Beethoven with Marie-Noëlle.

Composer of the Week starting 6th March 2023

In the week of Monday 6th March 2023, Johanna Müller-Hermann was Composer of the Week on Radio 3. I was interviewed for each programme by the presenter, Donald Macleod. This was a fantastic chance to hear almost everything by Müller-Hermann that has so far been recorded.

The Other Voice: Women’s musical creativity in Alma Mahler’s Vienna

I’ve been commissioned by Equinox Publishing to write a book on women musicians in Vienna in the early 20th-century. The further I get with my research, the more women I find whose stories have been lost and whose music has disappeared in to libraries and archives. It’s really exciting to start digging it all out again!

Royal Philharmonic Society’s Enterprise Fund

I’ve been lucky enough to be awarded a grant by the RPS Enterprise Fund. It’s given me the chance to learn to make documentary videos and to record some beautiful songs by Lili Boulanger. Watch the video here for more information.

‘Graceful’, ‘accomplished’ and ‘imaginative’ – The Times review of Endless Forms Most Beautiful

On 18th October 2019 I premièred  Endless Forms Most Beautiful, a new work for soprano and string quartet, with texts about evolution and the environment, which I commissioned from the up-and-coming British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad. The cycle was praised in The Times as ‘shrewd, witty and imaginative’, the Gildas Quartet’s playing was described as ‘graceful’ and the review described my singing as ‘accomplished’. Contact me if you’d like to read the full review.

Johanna Müller-Hermann

The work of Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868-1941) has been almost completely forgotten, although in her life-time she was a highly respected composer and an important part of the Viennese musical scene. In 2017, Carola was selected for a BBC/AHRC to seek out her work and prepare it for broadcast on Radio 3.

See Research and Writing for more information, or view and download the PDF below.


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