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date: 17 August 2019

Lutyens, (Agnes) Elisabethlocked

  • Anthony Payne
  •  and Toni Calam

Extract

(b London, July 9, 1906; d London, April 14, 1983). English composer. A daughter of the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, she began serious music studies at the Ecole Normale, Paris, in 1922 and subsequently entered the RCM, where she studied composition with Harold Darke and the viola with Ernest Tomlinson. Her first important public performance was that of the ballet The Birthday of the Infanta in 1932. This score has been withdrawn, as have other works of the period performed at the Macnaghten-Lemare Concerts: indeed, Lutyens’s stylistic evolution was a slow and arduous process worked out, she claimed, without knowledge of radical developments outside England. An important experience was her introduction to the Purcell string fantasias. Their independence of part-writing was to lead her to a personal brand of serialism in the Chamber Concerto no.1 (1939), one of the most innovatory British works of the period. The rigorously chromatic thematicism of this piece – and also the extremely attenuated textures – immediately marked Lutyens off from her English contemporaries. Her sense of isolation at this point seems to have been complete: she was driven to battle against the incomprehension of the English musical establishment, and she was not helped by her turbulent domestic life. In ...

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