She was a student of Sterndale Bennett and George MacFarren at the Royal Academy of Music. Her major works include two symphonies, five overtures, an introduction, an Allegro for piano and orchestra, several large-scale cantatas, and a large collection of chamber music, including four piano quartets and string quartets. Many of her instrumental works have only recently been published and made available for performance.
According to her obituary in The Athenaeum of December 12, 1884, “Her music is marked by elegance and grace … power and energy. Her forms were always clear and her ideas free from eccentricity; her sympathies were evidently with the Classic rather than with the Romantic school.”
Smith must nonetheless be seen as a Romantic who was probably most inspired by Felix Mendelssohn. Her music is light and melodic but also has features of a more classicist tradition. She was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and was elected as an Honorary Member of the Academy (Hon RAM) in 1884.