Credited to Christian Steiner

Thea Musgrave



Thea Musgrave CBE 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 1950-54. In 1958 she attended the Tanglewood Festival and studied with Aaron Copland. 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 married American violist and opera conductor Peter Mark in 1971. From 1987 to 2002 she was Distinguished Professor at Queen's College, City University of New York.

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 concertoHelios 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 and premiered by them in 2003) depicts a series of paintings by J. M. W. 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; premiere 1995 at the Virginia Opera) and Pontalba (2003). Her music has been recorded on the NMC, Bridge and Lyrita record labels.

Thea Musgrave has received the Koussevitzky Award (1974) as well as two Guggenheim Fellowships (1974/5 and 1982/3). She holds honorary degrees from Old Dominion University (Virginia), Glasgow University, Smith College and the New England Conservatory in Boston. In 2002 she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's New Year Honours List.


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