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Elisabeth Lutyens

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Elisabeth Lutyens was a creative artist for whom compromise was impossible. She believed fervently in the necessity for a professional approach, whether she was writing for the concert hall, the radio or for the film studios. She had an unerring sense of responsibility towards both her historical antecedents and her contemporaries, and every piece she wrote was the result of an unfailing awareness of the importance of a clear premise and purpose. As a teacher, Lutyens was always alive, inventive and understanding. Her generously long lessons were as much of a challenge to her as to her students and the range was wide; apart from detailed technical work on notes and form, she relished analysing great poetry and discussing word-setting and, being fluent in French, she was particularly adept at demonstrating the differences between setting, say, Donne and Verlaine.

Few composers today are blessed with Lutyens' blend of success combined with deep humility; she frequently said that it was work itself which stimulated her imagination and this is demonstrated in her large and extremely varied output. Let us hope that her greatest music will always be appreciated by the aware of each generation and that they may derive pleasure and solace from its unique expressive world.

Robert Saxton, 1996

Outstanding among her pieces for mixed ensemble with voice is The Valley of Hatsu-Se. This work is typical of the best of her music in its ability to discover a technique and stylistic expression specific to the task in hand-in this case the setting of early Japanese poems in the original language-and in its success in suggesting a deliberate atmospheric colour (through subtle harmonic, melodic and rhythmic characterizations) without ever resorting to pastiche.

Susan Bradshaw, 1974

More information about Lutyens is on the British Library website at www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/music/elislutyens/elisabethlutyens19061983maturity/lutyensmaturity.html