The Choral Music of Twentieth-Century Women Composers

Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy and Thea Musgrave

By (author) Catherine Roma

Paperback - £48.00

Publication date:

30 November 2005

Length of book:

232 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810850293

This book brings to light the choral works of three contemporary British women composers: Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983), Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994), and Thea Musgrave (1928- ). Earning solid reputations in Britain through their varying compositional styles, their music has revealed them to be substantial, prolific composers who are representative of major trends in twentieth-century British choral composition. Lutyens, often described as a musical pioneer, incorporates a highly personal and imaginative style in her use of twelve-tone technique, and her departures from the strict practice of serial writing are always highly personal and imaginative. Maconchy describes her own technique as 'impassioned argument,' using compositional tools such as contrapuntal textures in both her instrumental and choral works, resulting in a high degree of chromatic color. Musgrave encompasses many modes of expression, from her early choral works featuring tonal diatonic writing, to a free chromatic style with imprecise tonality at times. Complete with historical perspective, musical examples, and reproductions of choral texts, this resource of important and little known contemporary choral works demonstrates the diverse approaches used by these and other contemporary composers, and contributes to the growing literature on women in music.
Roma (music, Wilmington College) examines the choral works of British composers Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983), Elizabeth Maconchy (1907- 1994), and Thea Musgrave (b. 1928). She provides biographical background, discusses their compositional style, the twelve-tone technique of Lutyens, and her Requiem for the Living, Motet, and "Country of the Stars." The works of Maconchy under analysis are Nocturnal, "Siren's Song," and Creatures, while the focus on Musgrave's output is in her Four Madrigals, Cantata for a Summer's Day, "Memento Creatoris," "John Cook," Rorate Coeli, and The Last Twilight. The concluding chapter briefly notes other contemporary women composing in Britain. The appendixes contain texts and catalogs of each composer's choral pieces.