RPS Accolade for Thea Musgrave CBE

The acclaimed composer has been made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society.

Thea Musgrave
  The award winning composer has been made a Fellow of the RPS

Composer Thea Musgrave CBE has been made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society.

The award to the 94-year-old Scottish composer was made in New York where she has lived and worked for many years.

Musgrave studied University of Edinburgh and the Paris Conservatoire under Nadia Boulanger and later, with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood.

Acclaimed works

Her acclaimed output has included works for numerous world class orchestras, soloists and arts organisations, many marked by the incorporation of physical movement by the soloists and orchestral musicians to heighten the theatre of a performance.

She has received several awards and honours including IVORs Awards, CBE (2002) and the Queen's Medal for Music.

Notable works include the 'Concerto for Orchestra' (1967), 'Space Play' (1974), her seminal opera 'Mary, Queen of Scots' (1977), 'The Seasons' (1988), and 'Songs for a Winter's Evening' (1995).


Her short brass band work 'Variations' was written in 1966 and premiered by the National Youth Band of Scotland. It was later recorded by the then Sun Life Band in 1990.

The theme and five variations were inspired by the composer's investigation in to the unusual colourings and tonalities she felt a brass band offered.

Other works for brass include a Trumpet Concerto (2019) and Horn Concerto (1971) as well as several compositions for wind and brass ensemble.

Musical icon

The citation accompanying the award stated: "Thea is a musical icon. Over a remarkable international career, she has created a body of work bursting with energy, ready to leap off the page and seize our imagination.

Her music abounds with such style and sophistication, constantly asking fresh and daring questions of musical forms and traditions.

She lures us in by suffusing her music with so much of the world we know, drawing in particular on paintings, poems, myths and her Scottish heritage as the starting point for so many of her musical voyages."

Thea is a musical icon. Over a remarkable international career, she has created a body of work bursting with energy, ready to leap off the page and seize our imaginationRPS citation


In response the composer said: "It is a tremendous honour and privilege. Also a privilege is the opportunity to write new music; one which I have had the great fortune to do for, well, quite a few years.

Music is nothing without musicians, and so I am grateful for all those who have commissioned, programmed and performed my music throughout my career, here in this room, here in the US, back in my native UK and around the world."

Further details:


Image copyright: Bryan Sheffield 2015

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