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Thea Musgrave

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Thea Musgrave


Thea Musgrave CBE (b. 27 May 1928, Barnton, Edinburgh, Scotland) is a Scottish composer of opera and classical music living in the United States.

Musgrave was educated at Moreton Hall School, a boarding independent school for girls near the market town of Oswestry in Shropshire, followed by the University of Edinburgh, and in Paris as a pupil of Nadia Boulanger from 1950 to 1954. 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. From 1987 to 2002 she was Distinguished Professor at Queens 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 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 depicts a series of paintings by J. M. W. Turner.

She has written more than a dozen operas and other music theatre works, many taking a historical figure as their central character.

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, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2002 she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's New Year Honours List. She was awarded the Queen's Medal for Music, 2017.

Works for Winds