On 24 February 1937, having recently arrived in Paris, PGH noted in her diary that she had written the first movement of a flute concerto. Stanley Bate was also in Paris and this was the year he composed a flute sonata, recorded the following year for the Oiseau-Lyre label by Marcel Moyse (flute) and his son Louis (piano) so perhaps both composers were inspired by the playing of Moyse, then a professor at the Conservatoire and a friend of Nadia Boulanger. Although PGH’s concerto must have been completed—in 1943 she offered the score to the ABC in Australia—it has since been lost. Louise Dyer (of Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre) was prepared to offer Bate a recording contract for whatever he wrote but found him difficult to work with. The flute sonata was reviewed in Music & Letters by E.R. (Edmund Rubbra?), who described it as “well-oiled music that, once it gets started, is able to go on its own momentum ad infinitum”. He also made the usual complaint about Bate’s immaturity, adding, “We shall know the stature of this young composer only when he has ceeased to gather hints on note-manipulation from a certain widely-influential Parisian school”. The flute sonata has recently been recorded by James Dutton with Oliver Davies for Willowhayne Records. It is a delightful work, typically French in its lightheartedness and typically a product of the Boulangerie in its whimsical meanderings with spicy modernist inflections.
Today is the thirtieth anniversary of PGH’s death. How did she want to be remembered? When Joyce McGrath painted her portrait in 1989 she chose to wear one of the capes that had been handmade for her in Greece, they used as background two Greek masks that she had hanging in the house and in her hand was a toy owl, representing Athena (or Minerva) goddess of wisdom. Thus the portrait tied her not just to her years of living in Greece but also to ancient Greece and its mythology. Almost certainly she was also making a statement about her own exceptionality.