Thea Musgrave's music is published by Novello & Co. and Chester Music.

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BBC Proms Mark Musgrave 90

Thomas Le Brocq

The BBC Symphony Orchestra will mark Thea Musgrave’s ninetieth birthday year with a performance of her orchestral work Phoenix Rising on August 7 in Prom 33 of the festival. Conducted by 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society award-winning conductor and former Music Director of Opera North, Richard Farnes, the orchestra will also perform Brahms’s A German Requiem.

Written in 1996-7, Musgrave’s original sketches for Phoenix Rising were based on an idea of an extended single movement progressing from darkness (low and fast music) to light (high, slow and peaceful). However, Musgrave recalls casually that ‘the idea only became focused dramatically in my mind some months later, when, by chance, I saw a sign Phoenix Rising hanging outside a Virginian coffee shop. As I like to interpret the ancient fable of the phoenix rising from the ashes as the promise of hope and rebirth, this sign struck me immediately as a visualisation of what my piece was really about.’

This performance will be just the latest in a long line of works featured at the Proms over her career: Concerto for Orchestra (1968), Horn Concerto (1971, 1978, 1988), Memento Vitae (1980), Clarinet Concerto (1984), Helios (2003), Ithaca (2010), Loch Ness (2012) to name just a few. Indeed, below is a picture from 1973 when Musgrave returned to the UK from her new home in Virginia, USA to conduct her husband Peter Mark in a Proms performance of her Viola Concerto.

General booking for the 2018 BBC Proms in London opens on May 12 and can be reserved by logging on to the Royal Albert Hall website here.

Peter and Thea CMYK.jpg

Stockholm International Composer Festival 2018: Thea Musgrave

Thomas Le Brocq

The Stockholm International Composer Festival is one of the classical world’s most high-profile opportunities to discover the full breadth of a composer’s music.    

This November in the Swedish capital’s premier concert hall, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (RSPO) and Norrköping Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the work of Thea Musgrave. The festival, which has honoured classical music’s most important composers over its twenty-two-year history, runs from November 22-25 and will provide a comprehensive overview of Musgrave’s long career, in four orchestral and chamber concerts. It joins a long list of important celebrations marking the British-American composer's ninetieth birthday. 

In the opening concert, on November 22, Nicholas Daniel joins the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra give the world premiere performance of Musgrave’s Night Windows for Oboe and 15 StringsNight Windows is inspired by Edward Hopper’s striking painting of the same name. The five scenes in Musgrave’s work, however, are all imaginary, highly charged emotional moments derived from Hopper’s work more broadly, subtitled ‘Loneliness’, ‘Anger’, ‘Nostalgia’, ‘Despair’ and ‘Frenzy’. The American conductor Karen Kamensek will conduct the premiere in a programme of Musgrave’s most powerful orchestral works inspired by art: Turbulent LandscapesThe Seasonsand Loch Ness. The RSPO will repeat this concert two days later, with one programming change: Daniel performs Musgrave’s oboe concerto, Helios, in place of Night Windows.

The Finnish-Ukrainian conductor Dalia Stasevska takes up the baton on the second evening of the festival (November 23) with a programme exhibiting the full range of Musgrave’s music, performed by the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Beginning with the Concerto for Orchestra (1967), the second half of the concert then opens with her epic orchestral song cycle Songs for a Winter’s Evening (1995), and concludes with one of Musgrave’s earliest mature works, Scottish Dance Suite (1959). Violist Ellen Nisbeth will join the orchestra to perform Lady Caroline Lamb, Elegy for Viola and Orchestra, an iconic piece for the instrument by Musgrave’s close friend and artistic confidant Richard Rodney Bennett.

Soloists from the RSPO and Nicholas Daniel close the festival on November 25 with a concert of Musgrave’s chamber works, many exhibiting her period of experimentation with electronics in the 70s and 80s. The programme will include: A Song for ChristmasMusic for Horn and PianoFrom One to AnotherNiobe, From Spring to SpringThrenodySnow and Dawn.

More information & tickets

Stockholm International Composer Festival
Konserthuset’s huge annual Composer Festival was founded in 1986 and quickly became an essential element of both Swedish and international music scenes. The fundamental idea – to spend an intensive period featuring modern, established composers – has proven to be successful both artistically and among audiences. Since its establishment is has hosted some of the most important composers from around the world including: Witold Lutoslawski (1987), Alfred Schnittke (1989), Sir Michael Tippett (1997), Sofia Gubajdulina (2000), Lars Ekström/Bent Sørensen/Rolf Wallin (2001), Kaija Saariaho and Magnus Lindberg (2002), Henri Dutilleux (2003), Esa-Pekka Salonen (2004), Hans Werner Henze (2006), Thomas Adès (2009), Steve Reich (2010/11), and Per Nørgård (2012).

Full history of the festival


Edinburgh International Festival Celebrate Musgrave 90

Thomas Le Brocq


Scotland’s capital city will once again become a three-week celebration of the performing arts, featuring the finest performers and ensembles of dance, opera, music and theatre. This week, Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) unveiled its 2018 programme, which runs from Friday, August 3 to Monday, August 27, and we are delighted to say that they will celebrate Thea Musgrave's ninetieth year with two performances of her works.

On August 5, the National Youth Choir of Scotland under the conductor Christopher Bell perform Musgrave’s settings of strange and exotic poems from the London Underground, On the Underground Set No 2. A Scottish Premiere of Musgrave’s Turbulent Landscapes – a sequence of six independent movements through the land and seascape paintings of J.M.W.Turner – will be performed by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Martyn Brabbins on August 9. It will open to Vaughan Willliam's epic Seas Symphony. 

Trinity Laban to stage Musgrave's A Christmas Carol

Thomas Le Brocq


This International Women’s Day, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance announced that they will be staging a new production of Thea Musgrave’s 1979 opera A Christmas Carol as part of their new season focus Venus Blazing.

Venus Blazing is an unprecedented commitment by the conservatoire to the music of women composers throughout the next academic year, ensuring that at least half of the music it chooses for its public performances will be by women composers. This year they have chosen to highlight the work of Thea Musgrave, one of the most prolific women composers of opera – with eleven titles to her name. 

A Christmas Carol closely follows Charles Dickens’ beloved novel and will be given its second ever UK performance by the opera and vocal students of the conservatoire. It will take place in early December; more details will be announced later in the year. This announcement follows the performance of two concerts earlier this month by the Trinity Laban Chamber Choir, dedicated to the composer’s choral music in celebration of her ninetieth birthday. 

Announcing Venus Blazing last week, Harriet Harman, Chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, said:

'Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance is strongly committed to diversity in all elements and it has a mission to constantly challenge the status quo. Venus Blazing is a great example of just how it can do this.

This celebration will encourage and inspire its students – many of whom will go on to shape the future of the performing arts - to engage with the historic issue of gender imbalance in music by women, and ensure that it does not continue into the next generation.

I welcome this bold initiative to raise awareness of the disparity that has long existed in music and shine a light on music that has so frequently been overlooked. I am also greatly looking forward to hearing some of the musical treasures by women I might not otherwise have had the chance to hear in performance.’

More information on Venus Blazing can be found here.

Follow all the events marking #Musgrave90 by visiting and follow @MSClassical/musicsalesclassical on Twitter and Instagram.

BBC Philharmonic and Royal Northern celebrate Musgrave 90

Thomas Le Brocq



From February 1-2, the Royal Northern College of Music and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate the music of Thea Musgrave to mark her ninetieth birthday. The two-day festival ‘In Focus: Thea Musgrave’, led and curated by Clark Rundell, will feature concerts from the students, masterclasses and Q&As, and the performance of a world premiere. 

'It is a huge privilege to welcome the great Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave in this, her 90th year. For over six decades, her beautifully crafted music has resonated with audiences from around the world including France and its great cultural centre, Paris, where Thea studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger.'

Clark Rundell, Artistic Director, BBC Philharmonic

Beginning at 7:30 Thursday evening, the RNCM New Ensemble and RNCM Wind Orchestra will perform Musgrave’s Lamenting with Ariadne,Power Play and Journey Through a Japanese Landscape under three conductors: Mark Heron, Melvin Tay and Alexander Webb. The New Ensemble will also perform her 1974 Koussevitzky Award commission, Space Play, a concerto for nine instruments (originally written for the London Sinfonietta) in which each player takes turns leading the group sans conductor. A new work by RNCM student Edgar Divver will also feature in the programme. The concert, which will take place at the RNCM Concert Hall, will be introduced with a pre-talk in the Carole Nash Recital Room between Musgrave and Clark Rundell. 

On Friday, February 2, students will perform Musgrave’s small chamber works and a new work by student Robin Wallington in the Carole Nash Recital Room. The programme includes Voices from the Ancient WorldTake Two Bassoons and Wind Quintet

The festival concludes that evening at the MediaCity Studio. Clark Rundell leads the BBC Philharmonic in a first half of orchestral song (Song of the EnchanterSongs for a Winter's EveningFive Songs for Spring); followed by the world premiere of a new cello concerto for British cellist Josephine Knight, From Darkness into the Light. Closely based on her 2005 work Journey into Light for voice and chamber orchestra, this re-imagining (which now adds percussion and clarinet to the orchestral line-up) draws from one anonymous 15th-century poem and two others by the Scottish poet William Dunbar (1460?-1513?). In his poems Dunbar describes the promise of salvation after life’s dark passage and each of the three poems echo the thought that the poet can overcome the fear of his inevitable death with the certainty of salvation. Three new cello cadenzas employ elements of Musgrave’s self-defined ‘dramatic-abstract’ and perform thematic responses to Dunbar’s text. The BBC Philharmonic conclude the concert with Musgrave’s ever-popular The Seasons. The performance will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3. 

Admission to all events is free. For more information about the festival click here. Applications for tickets to the BBC Philharmonic Studio performance can be found here

Musgrave at 90 in 2018

Thomas Le Brocq

On 27 May 2018, one of Britain’s most distinguished composers, Thea Musgrave, turns ninety and will have clocked up almost seventy years in her profession. An impressive feat, she still maintains an active writing schedule, composing with amazing energy and passion. 

Several performances and premiere recordings marking the occasion are already scheduled to take place in Europe and America in 2018. Having just completed a chamber reduction of her seminal opera Mary, Queen of Scots, she is now working on a new ten-minute work for piano and baritone which takes its text from Calderón’s La Vida Es Sueño, a Missa Brevis, and an organ piece based on J.S. Bach’s Orgelbüchlein

Novello have brought together tributes, in-depth programme notes and previously unseen photos in a new celebratory brochure:

If you would like to find out more about Thea’s music, the plans already in place for the 2017/18 season, or have your performances lined up, then please do not hesitate to contact Find us on Facebook and Twitter using the official hashtag #Musgrave90.