I think of the composer Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983) every time I go to the island of Lindisfarne. The reason is quite a tenuous one - her father, the architect Edwin Lutyens, renovated the castle there in 1901. Her music definitely falls into the "potentially difficult" category, although I don't think one should be deterred by this. For me it has an engaging, haunting quality about it.
The few British composers I've featured so far in this series produced, by and large, accessible music (an intriguing exception is John Tavener who, as the only "avant garde" composer to be signed by Virgin Records raises interesting questions about what constitutes "accessible" music). Lutyens, on the other hand, was one of the few composers in Britain at the time to follow the lead of continental composers writing atonal music. She adopted, modified and developed their methods to suit her own needs. Think of her, if you like, as a Barbara Hepworth of postwar British music.
I particularly like this Youtube video of Lutyens' Five Bagatelles for piano. OK, it could be all sorts of places but I'm guessing the illustrations are of Norfolk. They certainly go well, I think, with the music, which is interesting, as British landscape is usually associated with the sound-world of Vaughan Williams.
Lutyens also worked as a film composer. She was the first woman to compose music for a British feature film - Penny and the Pownall Case, starring Diana Dors and Christopher Lee.
This post is one of a series on post-WWII British Composers. Click on the link to read them all.
1 year ago