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date: 22 October 2019

Musgrave, Thea (opera)locked

  • Hugo Cole

Extract

(b Barnton, Midlothian, May 27, 1928). Scottish composer, now resident in the USA . After studying at Edinburgh University and privately with Hans Gál she worked under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger in Paris (1950–54). On her return to Britain, she quickly established her reputation with a number of substantial instrumental works and wrote a one-act comic opera, The Abbot of Drimock (1955), which owes something to neo-classical Stravinsky in its angular themes and dry humour. Her first full-length opera, The Decision (1964–5), was written without a commission at a period when she was making use of serial techniques. The grim and claustral mood of a libretto dealing with a Scottish mine disaster is reflected in a closely worked, contrapuntal, freely chromatic score.

In the late 1960s, Musgrave found a more individual and compelling voice in a series of adventurous instrumental works which made imaginative use of indeterminate notations and exploited the particular skills of virtuoso performers, often introducing an element of music theatre into the concert hall. A similar spirit of adventure and freedom is apparent in the richly romantic ...

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