Elizabeth Maconchy

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Elizabeth Maconchy's plaque in Shottesbrook, Boreham

Dame Elizabeth Violet Maconchy LeFanu DBE (19 March 1907 – 11 November 1994) was an English composer of Irish heritage.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Elizabeth Violet Maconchy was born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and grew up in England and Ireland.[4]

She enrolled at the Royal College of Music in London at the age of sixteen studying under Charles Wood and Ralph Vaughan Williams.[4][5] In 1932, Maconchy developed tuberculosis and moved from London to Kent.[1][4]

In 1930 Maconchy married William LeFanu, with whom she had two daughters: [3][5] Elizabeth Anna LeFanu (born 1939) and Nicola LeFanu (born 1947).[1]

Works[edit]

Maconchy's cycle of thirteen string quartets, composed between 1932 and 1983, are regarded as the peak of her musical achievements.[6] In 1933, Maconchy's quintet for oboe and strings won a prize in the London Daily Telegraph Chamber Music Competition, and was recorded by Helen Gaskel with the Griller Quartet soon afterwards on HMV Records.[7]

String quartets[edit]

  • String Quartet No. 1 (1932/33)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1936)
  • String Quartet No. 3 (1938)
  • String Quartet No. 4 (1942/43)
  • String Quartet No. 5 (1948)
  • String Quartet No. 6 (1950)
  • String Quartet No. 7 (1955)
  • String Quartet No. 8 (1967)
  • String Quartet No. 9 (1968)
  • String Quartet No. 10 (1972)
  • String Quartet No. 11 (1976)
  • String Quartet No. 12 (1979)
  • String Quartet No. 13 Quartetto Corto (1982–83)

Symphonic works[edit]

  • Suite in E minor for string orchestra (1924)
  • Fantasy for flute, harp and string orchestra (1926, lost)
  • Elegy for flute, horn and string orchestra (1926, lost)
  • Fantasy for Children for small orchestra (1927–28)
  • Theme and Variations for orchestra (1928)
  • The Land, symphonic suite after V. Sackville-West's poem, for orchestra (1929)
  • Symphony (No. 1), for orchestra (1929–30, withdrawn)
  • Suite for chamber orchestra (1930, withdrawn)
  • Comedy Overture for orchestra (1932–33)
  • Two Dances from the ballet Puck Fair, for orchestra (1940)
  • Variations on a Well-Known Theme, for orchestra (1942)
  • Theme and Variations for string orchestra (1942–43)
  • Suite from the ballet Puck Fair, for orchestra (1943)
  • Symphony (No. 2), for orchestra (1945–48, withdrawn)
  • Nocturne for orchestra (1950–51)
  • Proud Thames : Coronation Overture, for orchestra (1952–53)
  • Symphony for double string orchestra (1952–53)
  • Suite on Irish Airs, for small orchestra (1953 ; arr. for full orch, 1954)
  • Suite on Irish Airs, version for full orchestra (1955)
  • A Country Town, 6 short pieces for orchestra (c. 1956) [arr. of piano pieces from 1939]
  • Music for Woodwinds and Brass (1965–66)
  • An Essex Overture, for orchestra (1966)
  • Three Cloudscapes for orchestra (1968, withdrawn)
  • Genesis for chamber orchestra (1972–73)
  • Sinfonietta, for orchestra (1976)
  • Little Symphony, for orchestra (1980–81)
  • Music for Strings (1981–82)
  • Life Story, for string orchestra (1985)

Concertante works[edit]

  • Andante and Allegro, for flute and string orchestra (1926–27)
  • Concertino (No. 1) for piano and chamber orchestra (1928 ; rev. 1929-30)
  • Viola Concerto (1937, withdrawn)
  • Dialogue for piano and orchestra (1940–41)
  • Concertino (No. 1) for clarinet and string orchestra (1945)
  • Concertino (No. 2) for piano and string orchestra (1949)
  • Concertino for bassoon and string orchestra (1952)
  • Toombeola, for violin and string orchestra (1954, withdrawn)
  • Concerto for oboe, bassoon and string orchestra (1955–56)
  • Suite for oboe and string orchestra (1955–56)
  • Serenata concertante for violin and orchestra (1962)
  • Variazioni concertante, for oboe, clarinet, basson, horn and string orchestra (1964–65)
  • Epyllion, for solo cello and 15 strings (1973–75)
  • Romanza for viola, woodwind quintet and string quintet (1979)
  • Tribute, for violin and woodwind octet (1982)
  • Concertino (No. 2) for clarinet and small orchestra (1984)

Stage[edit]

  • Great Agrippa, ballet (1933)
  • Puck Fair, ballet (1939-40)
  • The Sofa, comic opera, libretto: Ursula Vaughan Williams, (1956-57)
  • The Three Strangers, opera, libretto: Elizabeth Maconchy after Thomas Hardy, (1957-58, rev. 1967, -69, -77)
  • The Departure, opera, libretto: Anne Ridler, (1960-61, rev. 1977)
  • The Birds, extravaganza, Elizabeth Maconchy after Aristophanes, (1967-68)
  • Johnny and the Mohawks, children's opera (1969)
  • The Jesse Tree, masque, libretto: Anne Ridler, (1969-70)
  • The King of the Golden River, children's opera, libretto: Elizabeth Maconchy after John Ruskin (1975)

Honours[edit]

In 1959, Maconchy chaired the Composers' Guild of Great Britain, the first woman to do so.[5] In 1960, she was awarded the Cobbett Medal for chamber music.[5] She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1977, and elevated to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1987.[3][8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Doctor, Jennifer (2004). "Maconchy, Dame Elizabeth Violet (1907–1994)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online (Jan 2008) ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55123.
  2. ^ Greene, David Mason (1985). Petrak, Albert M., ed. Green's Biographical Encyclopedia of Composers. 1. p. 1366. ISBN 9780385142786. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Maconchy, Dame Elizabeth (Dame Elizabeth LeFanu)". Who Was Who (online (December 2012), Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black. November 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Staines, Joe (2010). "Elizabeth Maconchy". The Rough Guide to Classical Music. Penguin. pp. 320–21. ISBN 9781405383219. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Uglow, Jennifer S. & Maggy Hendry (1999). "Maconchy, Elizabeth". The Northeastern Dictionary of Women's Biography (3rd ed.). UPNE. pp. 347–48. ISBN 9781555534219. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  6. ^ Hugo Cole and Jennifer Doctor, "Maconchy, Dame Elizabeth", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001).
  7. ^ Darrell, R.D., ed. (1936). The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music. New York. p. 278. OCLC 598224.
  8. ^ "Announcement of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division): DBE". Supplement to the London Gazette (50848). 13 June 1987. p. 6. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Announcement of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division): CBE". Supplement to the London Gazette (47102). 31 December 1976. p. 9. Retrieved 27 December 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mathias, Rhiannon, Lutyens, Maconchy, Williams and Twentieth-Century British Music: A Blest Trio of Sirens (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012); ISBN 9780754650195.
  • Brüstle, Christa, and Sofer, Danielle (eds), Elizabeth Maconchy: Music as Impassioned Argument (Vienna, London, New York: Universal Edition, 2018; = Studien zur Wertungsforschung vol. 59), ISBN 978-3-7024-7562-8.