Elisabeth Charlotta Henrietta Ernestina Headlam-Morley (ne Sonntag) was born at Luneburg on 18 September 1865. Known as Else, she was the youngest daughter of Dr. August Sonntag. She learnt the violin from a former pupil of Friedrich Wieck andthe piano from her eldest sister Hedwig (Heidi), who was also a pupil of Wieck, and at the age of seven she wrote her first composition. After her family's move to Dresden, she played at the musical evenings given by Marie Wieck and ClaraSchumann.
When she was thirteen she was accepted as a pupil by Liszt, and studied with him at Weimar for five years, until his death in 1886, and afterwards with Franz Xaver Scharwenka in Berlin. Among Liszt's older pupils whom she knew at Weimar wereAlfred Reisenauer, Alexander Siloti, Emil Sauer and Arthur Friedheim. She travelled with Liszt to Budapest and appeared as a pianist there and in Vienna under Julius Epstein. She also studied harmony etc. with Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen. In 1892 shemarried James Wycliffe Headlam-Morley, who was knighted in 1929 for his work as historical adviser to the Foreign Office.
After her marriage, Else Headlam-Morley devoted her time increasingly to composition. She composed two operas Leonarda and Die Tulpen , and numerous songs and works for piano and orchestra. Leonarda, composed in 1925, was staged in Salzburg and inInnsbruck, under Dr. Nicholai van der Pals, and other performances of her music took place in the twenties and thirties in Berlin with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra under Dr. Ernst Kunwald, in Munich, Leipzig and Stuttgart, at the Queen's Hall inLondon, and in Bournemouth under Sir Dan Godfrey. Leonarda received concert performances in London in 1950 and in Aachen in 1962. Lady Headlam-Morley died on 25 February 1950.