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Maconchy, Elizabeth (1907–1994)

Maconchy, Elizabeth (1907–1994)

British composer. Name variations: Dame Elizabeth Maconchy. Born Elizabeth Maconchy in Boxbourne, Hertfortshire, England, Mar 19, 1907; died in 1994; attended Royal College of Music in London, 1923–29, studying under Charles Wood and Ralph Vaughn Williams; m. William Lefanu, 1930; children: 2 daughters, one of whom is the composer Nicola Lefanu (b. 1947).

Composer of works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, opera and voice, whose unique style, combining the best in modern and classical techniques, has been a great influence on modern music both in Great Britain and internationally; was a star pupil at Royal College of Music (1923); won the Blumenthal and Sullivan scholarships, and the Octavia Traveling Scholarship (1929); successfully premiered The Land, a suite of 4 numbers written for a large orchestra, at one of London's famous Promenade Concerts (1930); with Elizabeth Lutyens, Anne Macnaghten, and Iris Lemare, founded the Macnaghten-Lemare concerts, which strongly favored women composers; by mid-20s, had her work performed by major orchestras in England and Europe; began to concentrate increasingly on the composition of string quartets (1933), writing 13 of them within next 5 decades and becoming the English composer most associated with the form; wrote 3 one-act operas, several choral pieces, and several pieces for children's voices, including Samson and The King of the Golden River (1957–67); experimented with vocal works in Ariadne, Epyllion, and The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo; composed hundreds of works, which were increasingly performed and recorded. Won Edwin Evans Prize (1948), L.C.C. Prize for overture Proud Thames (1953) and GEDOK International prize (1961); received Radcliffe award (1969); became Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE, 1977) and Dame of the British Empire (DBE, 1987).

See also Women in World History.

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