Marie Dare

Composer and Cellist

  • BORN 4th February 1902 Newport-on-Tay, Fife, Scotland
  • DIED 11th February 1976 Edinburgh, Scotland
  • WORKED Edinburgh, UK; London, UK; Royal Scottish Academy of Music, Glasgow, UK; Many places in Europe including Vienna, Prague and Budapest.
  • HONOURS Guildhall School of Music: Gold Medal for Instrumentalists, Sir Landon Ronald Prize, and Composition Prizes; Women Musicians composition Prize with her Piano Trio


Details of this very private composer are hard to come by – we are still looking, so if you can help do contact us.  So far, we’ve found no connections with science in her life. However, she is now connected through Minerva Scientifica as we have found her beautiful songs fruitful, particularly for wildlife references, but are considering using many more in the future.


Title:  The Three Cherry Trees
Words by: Walter de la Mare (Constable & Co. Ltd)
Written in: unknown
For: Voice and Piano
Performed by: Margaret Cameron (Mezzo) and Frances M Lynch (Piano)

Birds in those branches did sing,
Blackbird and throstle and linnet,

Laura Florence did a particular study of the food of birds, trying to find out which species helped and which hindered farmers and their crops. This gorgeous song struck me as mentioning three of the birds she looked at and the giant cherry tree outside my own London home has always been home to song birds, pecking away at the cherries which gave me the idea of using this song inside a larger work I created about this scientist and her childhood friend Doris Mackinnon.

Title:  The Four Maries
Words: Traditional
Written in: date unknown
For: 4 female voices
Performed by: Frances M Lynch

Yestreen the queen had four Maries, the nicht she’ll hae but three; 
There was Marie Seaton and Marie Beaton and Marie Carmichel and me

This arrangement of a very well-known rhyme was not easy to decipher from the manuscript – it looked as if it was written for something that was not a formal performance. I was able to find out nothing else about it. However, it seemed to connect well to Somerville, as a song about Maries, by Marie Dare, around Mary Queen of Scots and of course is a text that was collected obsessively by Somerville’s friend Sir Walter Scott – he collected 8 versions of it.

Title: The Grey Geese
Words by: C. Ethel Evans
Written: ?
For: Voice and Piano
Performed by: Frances M Lynch
First performed: Aug 5th 2017, Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the 5 star Scottish Superwomen of Science show

“The Grey Geese” by Marie Dare (1902 – 1976), is a setting for voice and piano of a poem by C. Ethel Evans. It is performed by Frances M Lynch and was originally performed as part of an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show “Scottish Superwomen of Science”.

Title: A Widow Bird Sate Mourning 
Written in: 1973
Performed by: Frances M Lynch

Dare was born in Fife as were the two intrepid ornithologists who collaborated most of their working lives. This beautiful setting of Shelley’s poem could be one of the birds they wrote about after a bombardment by a Zepplin on the River Forth which they noted a good many effects on the bird populations quite far from the attack. It also resonates with Baxter’s six year mourning period after Rintoul died.

This is the first, and only, recording, but hopefully a choir will sing it again one day – the “good ladies” would definitely approve!


Marie Dare studied cello at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and then with Paul Bazelaire in Paris. She studied composition with Benjamin Dale.


  • Cellist with a professional solo career in the concert halls of Europe.
    • principal cellist of the Reid Orchestra, Edinburgh
    • a member of the Scottish Trio
    • taught cello at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama ( now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
  • Double Bass player – she taught herself to play and and coached youth orchestras
  • Composer – she created music for voice and piano, choirs, cellos, orchestras and more.
  • Petty Officer in the Womens’ Royal Naval Service during World War II


  • At 9 years old she was publicly singled out by Landon Ronald (Principle of the Guildhall School of Music) as a student of remarkable talent
  • As a teenager she was chosen as a soloist in a Victory Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of Queen Alexandra, after WW1
  • She made her professional solo cello debut at London’s Aeolian Hall
  • Gave solo broadcasts for the BBC



She wrote 6 compositions for cello quartet, a most unusual combination, of which only one was published – Elegie (Chester Music). Most of her scores are in the archive of the Scottish Music Centre.

She is usually described as very shy, though clearly she was much loved. Her music reveals a different side of her character – passionate and colourful.


She was very much loved by her many students and can still inspire people today through her music