conk  The extract below is from Lutyens, Maconchy, Williams and Twentieth-Century British Music: A Blest Trio of Sirens, by Rhiannon Mathias (2012). In the front cover photo above Elizabeth Maconchy is on the left, Grace Williams is in the center and Elisabeth Lutyens on the right.

Maconchy’s cycle of 13 string quartets, the first composed in 1933 (when she was 26) and the last in 1979 are inevitably influenced by Bartok but they have their own individual voice – and they have all been recorded. There’s been a recent revival of interest in the work of Grace Williams, resulting in some major works such as the Violin Concerto, Second Symphony and her last major work, Fairest of Stars for soprano and orchestra (1973) receiving modern performances. Lutyens perhaps remains the best known from a historical perspective, though here music is only occasionally played these days. Mathias draws attention to the ambition set of Music for Orchestra pieces written between 1953 and 1981, lush and lyrical in the manner of Alban Berg. According to Anthony Payne (cited by Mathias), these four pieces “occupy a place in her work similar to that of symphonies in other composers”. Music for Orchestra 1V received its broadcast premiere on 15 December 1983 with the City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox conducting. Lutyens had died died nine month earlier, on 15 April 1983).

The Arts Theatre Club mentioned in the extract is not the current club with that name in Frith St, but what is now called the Arts Theatre in Great Newport Street. It had opened two years before Bartok’s visit.

bartok

 

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