Thea Musgrave

(b. 27 May 1928) is a Scottish composer of opera and classical music. Born in Barnton, Edinburgh, Thea Musgrave studied at the University of Edinburgh and in Paris as a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. In 1970 she became Guest Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a position which confirmed her increasing involvement with the musical life of the United States, where she has lived since 1972. She has received the Koussevitsky Award (1974) as well as two Guggenheim Fellowships (1974/5 and 1982/3). From 1987 to 2002 she was Distinguished Professor at Queen’s College, City University of New York. She holds honorary degrees from Old Dominion University (Virginia), Glasgow University, Smith College and the New England Conservatoire in Boston. In 2002 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

Among Musgrave’s earlier orchestral works, the Concerto for Orchestra of 1967 and the Concerto for Horn of 1971 display the composer’s ongoing fascination with ‘dramatic-abstract’ musical ideas. More recent works continue the idea though sometimes in a more programmatic way: such as the oboe concerto Helios of 1994, in which the soloist represents the sun god. Another frequent source of inspiration is the visual arts - The Seasons took its initial inspiration from a visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, while Turbulent Landscapes (commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra) depicts a series of paintings by JMW Turner. Musgrave has written more than a dozen operas and other music theatre works, many taking a historical figure as their central character, among them Mary Queen of Scots (1977), Harriet Tubman (Harriet, the Woman called Moses, 1984), Simón Bolívar (1993) and Pontalba (2003).

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Thea Musgrave: Concerto for Orchestra; Clarinet Concerto; Horn Concerto; Etc.Musgrave: Occurrence At Owl CreekThea Musgrave: Choral WorksThe Choral Music of Twentieth-Century Women Composers: Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy and Thea Musgrave