Two works by female composers will be featured in the next Three Rivers Music Society concert in Rickmansworth on November 21.

Symphonia Academica, one of the country’s most versatile chamber ensembles, will be performing string quartets by Doreen Carwithen and Fanny Mendelssohn, older sister of the more celebrated Felix.

Buckinghamshire-born Doreen Carwithen studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and went on to write the scores for more than 30 films in the late 1940s and 1950s – many of which were shot at Rank’s Denham Studios.

She also composed the music for Elizabeth is Queen, the official film of the 1953 coronation, as well as two prizewinning string quartets. As music publishers at that time were very reluctant to publish work by women, she went into premature retirement in the early 1960s after setting up home with her future husband, the composer William Alwyn.

Like her brother, Fanny Mendelssohn was a musical prodigy. She composed more than 460 pieces of music during her relatively short life but she too found that her gender ruled out a career as a composer. Even her father is said to have told her: “Music will perhaps become his [Felix’s] profession, while for you it can and must be only an ornament.”

The November 21 concert will include rare performances of Doreen Carwithen’s String Quartet No.1, which was admired by Vaughan Williams, and Fanny Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in E flat. Symphonia Academica will also play Arthur Bliss’s Oboe Quintet Opus 21 and Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy Quartet for oboe and strings.

The concert will be held at the Baptist Church, High Street, Rickmansworth WD3 1EH. It will begin at 7.30pm (20-minute pre-concert talk from 7pm). Further information at