Thea Musgrave
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/960x540/p03htqb8.jpg
1928-05-27
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/8956a074-129c-43f2-87a8-ad456134d674
Thea Musgrave

Thea Musgrave Biography (BBC)

Thea Musgrave first carved out a career as a composer and conductor at a time when it was rare for a woman to be either. She is often asked about being a ‘woman’ composer. Her reply? ‘Yes, I am a woman; and I am a composer. But rarely at the same time!’ Born in Edinburgh on 27 May 1928, she studied first at Edinburgh University, then with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, before settling in London.

Early performances at the Edinburgh Festival brought her to international notice. But it was her Concerto for Orchestra (1968) that first established her distinctively dramatic style of instrumental writing – a style whose possibilities were further explored in three solo concertos (for clarinet, horn and viola), all from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1970 she became Guest Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, marrying the American violist and conductor Peter Mark a year later and basing herself in the USA ever since. A Koussevitzky Award in 1974 led to the composition of Space Play, premiered at Lincoln Center. She has also been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and three honorary degrees. She was Distinguished Professor at Queen’s College, City University of New York, from 1987 to 2002, in which year she was appointed a CBE.

The 1970s and early 1980s were notable for four full-length operas. Musgrave herself conducted the premieres of The Voice of Ariadne (1973) and Mary, Queen of Scots (1977), commissioned by the Royal Opera and Scottish Opera respectively; A Christmas Carol (1978–9) and Harriet, the Woman Called Moses (1984) were commissioned by Virginia Opera, the last jointly with the Royal Opera, where it still awaits performance.A fifth major opera, Simón Bolívar (1993), was commissioned jointly by Scottish Opera and the Los Angeles Music Center, while her latest opera, Pontalba: A Louisiana Legacy, was premiered in New Orleans in 2003.

The late 1980s largely saw a return to concert music with The Seasons (1988) and Rainbow (1990) for orchestra, and three further instrumental concertos – for bass clarinet, marimba and oboe. Threnody for clarinet and piano, Canta Canta for clarinet and ensemble and In the Still of the Night for solo viola (all 1997) prepared the way for the orchestral outcome of the BBC commission Phoenix Rising (1998). Songs for a Winter’s Evening, written for the first International Burns Festival in Scotland in 1995, was given its English premiere at the 1998 Proms.

A large-scale orchestral work inspired by the paintings of J. M.W.Turner, Turbulent Landscapes (2003) was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and given its UK premiere in Manchester in 2004 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which also gave its London premiere at the 2005 Proms. Her Mozart bicentenary tribute, Journey into Light, was premiered in May 2006 by the soprano Carolyn Sampson and the period instruments of the Academy of Ancient Music under Paul Goodwin. An a cappella choral work Voices of Power and Protest was premiered at a “Voices for Peace” concert in New York in March 2007.

Profile © Louise Downes


Thea Musgrave Performances & Interviews


Thea Musgrave Tracks

Sort by

Thea Musgrave
Summer
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Summer
Thea Musgrave
Turbulent Landscapes
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Turbulent Landscapes
Thea Musgrave
From spring to spring for marimba
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
From spring to spring for marimba
Thea Musgrave
Songs for a Winter Evening
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Songs for a Winter Evening
Thea Musgrave
The Seasons
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
The Seasons
Thea Musgrave
Phoenix Rising (opening)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Phoenix Rising (opening)
Thea Musgrave
Canta, Canta!
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Canta, Canta!

Canta, Canta!

Music Arranger
Ensemble
Marsyas Trio
Last played on
Thea Musgrave
Song of the enchanter
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Song of the enchanter
Thea Musgrave
Opening - Mary's Lullaby
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Opening - Mary's Lullaby

Opening - Mary's Lullaby

Performer
Ashley Putnam
Gloria Capone
Orchestra
Virginia Opera Orchestra
Conductor
Thea Musgrave
Helios
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Helios
Thea Musgrave
From Darkness into the Light
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
From Darkness into the Light
Thea Musgrave
Two's Company for oboe, percussion and orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Two's Company for oboe, percussion and orchestra
Thea Musgrave
Sometimes (Poems on the Underground - Set 1)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Sometimes (Poems on the Underground - Set 1)
Thea Musgrave
Turbulent Landscapes for orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Turbulent Landscapes for orchestra
Thea Musgrave
Night Windows for oboe and piano
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Night Windows for oboe and piano
Thea Musgrave
Poems on the Underground (Set 2)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Poems on the Underground (Set 2)
Thea Musgrave
Voices from the ancient world (Pan)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Voices from the ancient world (Pan)

Voices from the ancient world (Pan)

Ensemble
Scottish Flute Trio
Performer
Tim Williams
Last played on
Thea Musgrave
Helios for oboe and ensemble
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Helios for oboe and ensemble
Thea Musgrave
The Seasons
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
The Seasons
Thea Musgrave
Mary, Queen of Scots (Act I: The Peace Chorus)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Mary, Queen of Scots (Act I: The Peace Chorus)
Thea Musgrave
5 Songs for spring
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
5 Songs for spring
Thea Musgrave
Wild Winter I
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Wild Winter I
Thea Musgrave
Concerto for horn and orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Concerto for horn and orchestra
Thea Musgrave
Songs for a winter's evening
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Songs for a winter's evening
Thea Musgrave
Concerto for orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Concerto for orchestra
Thea Musgrave
Impromptu No 1 for flute and oboe
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Impromptu No 1 for flute and oboe
Thea Musgrave
Rorate coeli
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Rorate coeli

Rorate coeli

Choir
Florilegium Chamber Choir
Conductor
JoAnn Rice
Thea Musgrave
Four Madrigals
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Four Madrigals

Four Madrigals

Choir
Florilegium Chamber Choir
Conductor
JoAnn Rice
Thea Musgrave
Driving in the Highlands (Excursions for piano duet)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Driving in the Highlands (Excursions for piano duet)
Thea Musgrave
Loch Ness
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Loch Ness
Thea Musgrave
Aunt Jennifer's Tigers (On the Underground)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Aunt Jennifer's Tigers (On the Underground)
Thea Musgrave
Phoenix Rising
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Phoenix Rising
Thea Musgrave
Loch Ness - a postcard from Scotland for orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Loch Ness - a postcard from Scotland for orchestra
Thea Musgrave
Turbulent Landscapes
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Turbulent Landscapes
Thea Musgrave
Phoenix Rising for orchestra
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Phoenix Rising for orchestra
Thea Musgrave
Turbulent Landscapes; No.1 Sunrise with Sea Monsters
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Turbulent Landscapes; No.1 Sunrise with Sea Monsters
Thea Musgrave
Phoenix Rising
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Phoenix Rising
Thea Musgrave
The Subway Piranhas (On the Underground Set 2)
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
The Subway Piranhas (On the Underground Set 2)
Thea Musgrave
The Seasons: iv. Summer
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
The Seasons: iv. Summer
Thea Musgrave
Phoenix Rising
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Phoenix Rising
Thea Musgrave
Memento vitae
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Memento vitae
Thea Musgrave
Turbulent Lanscapes
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Turbulent Lanscapes
Thea Musgrave
Loneliness from Night Windows
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Loneliness from Night Windows
Thea Musgrave
Monologue
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Monologue
Thea Musgrave
The Cherry Tree
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
The Cherry Tree
Thea Musgrave
Two's Company
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Two's Company
Thea Musgrave
Song of the Enchanter
https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p03htqb8.jpg
link
Song of the Enchanter
Load more tracks
Playlists featuring Thea Musgrave


Past BBC Events

Proms 1984: Prom 47
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ev5gwh
Royal Albert Hall
1984-09-04T09:52:54
4
Sep
1984

Proms 1984: Prom 47

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1973: Prom 22
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e2p6q9
Royal Albert Hall
1973-08-13T09:52:54
13
Aug
1973

Proms 1973: Prom 22

Royal Albert Hall
Proms 1971: Prom 16
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/erhn3d
Royal Albert Hall
1971-08-09T09:52:54
9
Aug
1971

Proms 1971: Prom 16

Royal Albert Hall

Back to artist