Ada Lovelace continues to inspire women (through music)

Ada Lovelace continues to inspire women 160 years after her death, as musician Emily Howard has created three compositions entitled The Lovelace Trilogy based on her life’s works. For those who don’t know, Lovelace was a mathematician and the only legitimate daughter of poet Lord Byron.


Watercolor portrait of Ada Lovelace

Watercolor portrait of Ada Lovelace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dubbed the world’s first computer programmer, one of Lovelace’s projects aimed to create a mathematical model for how the brain gives rise to thoughts and nerves to feelings called ‘A calculus of the nervous system.’ One of Howard’s pieces is called ‘A calculus of the nervous system’ and is based on a sequence of memories with each memory being associated with a line from Sir Geoffrey Hill’s Clavics.

Last year the piece was commissioned by the music festival Wien Modern for the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, conducted by James MacMillan. It premiered in the Wiener Konzerthaus last November.


After studying mathematics and computation at Oxford University, Howard started composing professionally. Her first orchestral piece was played by the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra when she was seven.


About her work Howard says: “Music that is important to me moves me emotionally and intellectually. My work is often informed by ideas from psychology, philosophy, poetry, science and the history and myths associated with scientific phenomena. 


“Frequently I use techniques and processes derived from mathematical principles to create musical structures on which to base compositions and increasingly, questions about memory processes play an important role in my music.


Howard currently teaches composition at the Royal Northern College of Music, in Manchester where she lives.


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