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Maconchy, Dame Elizabeth

Maconchy, Dame Elizabeth

Maconchy, Dame Elizabeth, significant English composer of Irish descent, mother of Nicola LeFanu; b. Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, March 19, 1907; d. Norwich, Nov. 11, 1994. She studied composition with Charles Wood and Vaughan Williams, and counterpoint with C.H. Kitson at the Royal Coll. of Music in London (from 1923); she then pursued further training with Jirák in Prague (1929–30). Returning to England, she devoted herself to composition. She also served as chairman of the Composers Guild of Great Britain (1959–60) and as president of the Soc. for Promotion of New Music (from 1977). In 1977 she was made a Commander and in 1987 a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Maconchy developed a style peculiarly her own: tonally tense, contrapuntally dissonant, and coloristically sharp in instrumentation.


dramatic: Great Agrippa, ballet (1933); The Little Red Shoes, ballet (1935); Puck Fair, ballet (1940); The Sofa, opera (1956–57; London, Dec. 13, 1959); The 3 Strangers, opera (1958–67; Bishop’s Stortford Coll., June 5, 1968); The Departure, opera (1960–61; London, Dec. 16, 1962); Witnesses, incidental music (1966); The Birds, opera (1967–68; Stortford Coll., June 5, 1968); Johnny and the Mohawks, children’s opera (1969; London, March 1970); The Jesse Tree, church opera (1969–70; Dorchester Abbey, Oct. 7,1970); The King of the Golden River, opera (Oxford, Oct. 29, 1975). orch.: Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orch. (1928); Concertino for Piano and Strings (1928); The Land, suite (1929); Suite for Chamber Orch. (1930); Viola Concerto (1937); Dialogue for Piano and Orch. (1940); Theme and Variations for Strings (1942); Variations on a Well-Known Theme (1942); Concertino for Clarinet and Strings (1945; Copenhagen, June 2, 1947); Sym. (1945–48); Double Concerto for Oboe, Bassoon, and Strings (1950); Concerto for Bassoon and Strings (1950); Nocturne (1951); Sym. for Double String Orch. (1952–53); Proud Thames, overture (1953); Serenata concertante for Violin and Orch. (1962); Variazioni concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, and Strings (1964–65); An Essex Overture (1966); Music for Winds and Brass (1966); 3 Cloudscapes (1968); Epyllion for Cello and 14 Strings (1975); Sinfonietta (1975–76); Romanza for Viola and Chamber Orch. (1978; London, March 12, 1979); Little Symphony (1980; Norwich, July 28, 1981); Music for Strings (London, July 26, 1983). chamber: Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet (1932); 14 string quartets (1933; 1936; 1938; 1943; 1948; 1950; 1955–56; 1966; 1968–69; 1971–72; 1976; 1979; 1983; 1984); Duo for 2 Violins (1934); Prelude, Interlude, and Fugue for 2 Violins (Prague, Sept. 4, 1935); 2 violin sonatas (1938, 1944); Sonata for Solo Viola (1938); Serenade for Cello and Piano (1944); Divertimento for Piano and Cello (1944); Duo, Theme, and Variations for Violin and Cello (1951); 3 Pieces for 2 Clarinets (1956); Trios for Strings (1957); Variations on a Theme from Vaughan Williams’s Job for Cello (1957); Reflections for Oboe, Clarinet, Viola, and Harp (1960); Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (1963); Sonatina for String Quartet (1963); 6 Pieces for Violin (1966); Conversations for Clarinet and Viola (1967–68); Music for Double Bass and Piano (1970); 3 Bagatelles for Oboe and Harpsichord or Piano (1972); Oboe Quartet (1972); 3 Preludes for Violin and Piano (1972); 5 Sketches for Viola (1972–73); Morning, Noon, and Night for Harp (1976); Contemplation for Cello and Piano (1978); Colloquy for Flute and Piano (1978–79); Fantasia for Clarinet and Piano (1979); Trio for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1980); Trittico for 2 Oboes, Bassoon, and Harpsichord (1981); Piccola musica for String Trio (Cheltenham, July 13, 1981); Tribute for Violin and 8 Winds (1983); Narration for Cello (1985); Excursion for Bassoon (1985). keyboard: piano: A Country Town (1939); Contrapuntal Pieces(1941); The Yaffle(1962); Mill Race(1962); Sonatina (1965); Preludio, Fugue, and Finale for Piano, 4-Hands (1967). Harpsichord: Sonatina (1965–66); Notebook(1965–66); 3 Pieces(1977); Sonatina (1977). vocal:The Voice of the City for Women’s Voices (1943); Stalingrad for Women’s Chorus (1946); Sonnet Sequence for Soprano and String Orch. (1946); A Winter’s Tale for Soprano and String Quartet (1949); 6 Yeats Settings for Soprano, Women’s Chorus, Clarinet, 2 Horns, and Harp (1951); Christmas Morning for Women’s Voices and Piano or Small Ensemble (1962); The Armado for Chorus and Piano (1962); Samson and the Gates of Gaza for Chorus and Orch. (1963–64); The Starlight Night for High Voice and Orch. (1964); Nocturnal for Chorus (1965); Propheta Mendax for Boy’s or Women’s Chorus (1965); I Sing of a Maiden for Chorus (1966); Peace for High Voice and Orch. (1966); And Death Shall Have No Dominion for Chorus, 2 Horns, 3 Trumpets, and 3 Trombones (1968–69); May Magnificat for High Voice and Orch. (1970); Ariadne for Soprano and Orch. (1970); Fly-by-Nights for Treble Voices and Harp (1973); Pied Beauty for Chorus and Brass (1975); Heavenhaven for Chorus and Brass (1975); The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo for Chorus, Alto Flute, Viola, and Harp (1978); Heloise et Abelard, cantata for Soprano, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch. (1978; Croydon, March 1979); My Dark Heart for Soprano and Instrumental Ensemble (1982); L’Horloge for Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano (1983); Still Falls the Rain for Double Chorus (1984); Butterflies for Voice and Harp (1986); other choral pieces, song cycles, and solo songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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