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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