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Susan Spain-Dunk

Susan Spain-Dunk

The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Musician
Gender female
Birth February 22, 1880
Death January 1, 1962
The details

Susan Spain-Dunk is a violinist/violist and composer, born 22 February 1880 Folkestone, England - Died 1 January 1962 London.

Life and career

Susan was the third of four children (Ethel K Dunk b.1876; John De Lanoy Dunk b.1878; Susan Spain Dunk b.1880; William Major b.1882). Their father was a house builder. Her second name, Spain, was added as the Dunk family were related to the Spain family. She studied violin and composition at The Royal Academy of Music, London with Stewart Macpherson and Richard Walthew and later taught composition and harmony there. For a time she played the viola in a private quartet of Walter Cobbett. She also played (violin or viola) in the Winifred Small Quartet and Cobbett made suggestions for "Anthology" programmes for the quartet (p. 26). She conducted some of her own works at The London Promenade Concerts (1924-1927) and also at Bournemouth. In 1908 she married Henry Gibson (b. 7.10.1882 - 22.7.1954). He was a minor composer, violinist, organist and pianist. The marriage lasted about sixteen years and she had one son, The Reverend Alan Henry Gibson (November 1911-September 1999), and two grandchildren. She died on 1 January 1962 aged 81.

Spain-Dunk appears in the book Some Folkestone Worthies by C.H. Bishop.

More information about Susan Spain-Dunk's chamber music can be found in the book:

Seddon, Laura (2013): British Women Composers and Instrumental Chamber Music in the Early Twentieth Century pp. 134–141.

Her Music

One of the most popular works is the Phantasy for String Quartet in G minor (1915). An analysis of this work can be found at the Edition Silvertrust. A recording was made by the Archaeus String Quartet on the Lorelt Label and released on 27 June 2003. A review of this recording was given by Steve Arloff. Another review was posted by Manor House Music on 21 April 2009.

Another recorded work was Kentish Downs Overture (1926) with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Barry Wordsworth. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1997. There was a further BBC Radio 3 broadcast in 2001.

The Suite for string orchestra in B minor (1920) was premiered at the London promenade concerts on Thursday 21 August 1924.

The Idyll for strings (1925) and the Romantic Piece for flute and strings was performed at the London promenade concerts on 13 October 1925. This work, as well as two other works: Kentish Downs and Elaine, are mentioned in the book containing the letters of Gerald Finzi and Howard Ferguson (p. 12).

The autograph manuscript of the Quartet in B flat minor was written and dated March 1914 with an address of 49 Castletown Road, West Kensington, London. The four parts are for first and second violins, viola and cello. A review of this Quartet was posted in The Chamber Music Journal of Spring 2003 Vol.XIV No.1 (p. 2).

Andred's Weald - for military orchestra (1925) – conducted by Spain-Dunk on 28 February 1929 with the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra.

Water Lily Pool, overture for flute, harp and strings, is mentioned in the book The Flute by Ardal Powell (p. 237).

List of Works


  • Elaine, symphonic poem (1927) – conducted by the composer at the London Promenade Concerts 25 August 1927
  • Stonehenge, symphonic poem
  • Kentish Downs, Overture (1926)
  • Water Lily Pool, Overture for flute, harp and strings *
  • Weald of Kent, Fantasia for orchestra
  • Four Spanish Dances for piano and orchestra (orchestrated from piano works)
  • Cantilena for clarinet and orchestra *
  • Two Scottish Pieces for orchestra, Op.54/1. 'By St.Mary's Loch', 54/2. 'Kerrera' (also a version for violin and piano)
  • Idyll for strings (1925) *
  • Suite for string orchestra in B minor (1920) *
  • Serenade de Capri (1928)
  • Karisima (1928)
  • Farmer's Boy, for flute and strings (1929)
  • Andred's Weald, for military orchestra (1925)
  • Notre Dame d'Albert, tone poem (1931)
  • Highland Overture (1935)
  • The Flute Player of Brindaven (1939)
  • Blessed Sonya, prelude
  • Kentonia, concert march
  • Romantic Piece for flute and strings (1925)
  • Legend for oboe and strings (1955)
  • Cinque Ports Suite - 'Dover Castle', 'Rye Harbour', Winchelsea Gate' (1958)
  • Malay,, tone poem (1958)

• Published by Novello & Co.


  • Phantasy piano trio in A minor (1907) (Cobbett prize)
  • String quartet in B flat minor (1914)
  • Phantasy, string quartet in D minor (1915), pub. Goodwin & Tabb, London.
  • Trio for two violins and piano
  • Violin sonata in B minor (1908) (Cobbett prize)
  • Violin sonata in D minor
  • Violin sonata in C minor
  • Lorelei Legend for violin and piano (1933)
  • Dead Roses for violin and piano
  • Halligen, Scandinavian dance for violin and piano (1908)
  • Springdays, Scandinavian dance for violin and piano (1908)
  • Jarabe, Spanish dance for violin and piano, Op.57 (1933)
  • Winter Song for cello and piano
  • Petite Serenade for flute and piano (1907)
  • Two pieces for violin and viola: 'The lonely moor'; 'Jig'
  • Sextet in F major (1941)
  • Wind quintet


  • Six Spanish Dances - La Madrilena, El Jaleo, Aragonaise, Pepita, Cachucha, El Ole (1936) - four were later orchestrated.
  • Prelude in D minor (1941)


  • The Baptism of Jesus, cantata (1959)
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