• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: IMP0236

Sutherland, Margaret Ada

(1897 – 1984)
  • Born 20 November, 1897, Adelaide South Australia Australia
  • Died 31 December, 1984
  • Occupation Composer


Margaret Sutherland’s life’s work as a composer saw her produce over 90 compositions and attain renown as a pioneer of ‘new music’ and of women’s involvement in music. Her only opera – the Young Kabbarli (1964), based on Daisy Bates – was the first Australian opera recorded in Australia.

Sutherland’s work promoting music and the arts included her years (1943-1956) as an initiator, organiser and secretary for the Combined Arts Centre Movement, a group which worked to promote the formation of a cultural centre in Melbourne after World War II, and her membership of many other councils and organising bodies such as the council of the National Gallery Association of Victoria (1950s-1960s).

Recognition of Sutherland’s prolific life as a composer and champion of the Arts in Australia has included an honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Melbourne (1969), the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), and her appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 13 June 1970 and an Officer of the Order of Australia on 8 June 1981.

Published resources

  • Resource
  • Resource Section
  • Edited Book
    • Who's Who of Australian Women, Lofthouse, Andrea, 1982
    • Women & music : a history, Pendle, Karin, 1991
    • 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Radi, Heather, 1988
    • Double Time: Women in Victoria - 150 Years, Lake, Marilyn and Kelly, Farley, 1985
  • Newspaper Article
    • A lifetime of music, 1981
    • Composer too long neglected, 1997
  • Book
    • The music of Margaret Sutherland, Symons, David, 1997
    • Australian women composers [videorecording], Sztar, Adele, 1983
    • The Complete Book of Great Australian Women: Thirty-six women who changed the course of Australia, De Vries, Susanna, 2003
  • Thesis
    • Composer, wife and mother : Margaret Sutherland as conflicted subject, Graham, Jillian, 2001
  • Site Exhibition

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Music manuscripts [19--] [manuscript]
    • Records of the Australian Musical Association, 1952-1995 [manuscript]
  • State Library of Victoria
    • Papers, ca. 1897-ca. 1984. [manuscript].

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Bates, Daisy May (1859 - 1951)
    • Wright, Judith Arundell (1915 - 2000)