Ethel Smyth fought against the expectations imposed by society to pursue her dreams and ambitions. She considered herself a serious composer and was recognized as such by Brahms, Grieg, Clara Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.
A composer of chamber, orchestral, vocal works, and operas, Smyth's work is eclectic in style, apparently never acquiring the artist's one true "voice." Nevertheless, she held her work up to the highest standards and they withstood the test. Her work contains adventurous experiments in harmony and brilliant thematic development. She often wrote her own librettos for her operas in French and German. Her work is majestic and potent and is considered to be characteristic of the revival of English music. Deaf in her later years, Smyth turned to writing prose as a creative outlet and achieved acclaim in this area as well. For women, she is a role model for those who choose a path and work to attain a non-traditional goal.