Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-83)



"Elisabeth Lutyens is an outrageous 76-year-old..." began a London Evening Standard article about the composer's life in 1982.

Hyperbole or fair comment? Donald Macleod hunts for the truth about this extraordinary figure in a week of programmes celebrating her centenary, beginning with a look at the complex relationship with her parents which so defined her early career.

As I Walked Out One Evening

Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Chamber Concert, No 1

Jane's Minstrels

Roger Montgomery (conductor)

The Country of the Stars

The Ionian Singers

Timothy Salter (conductor)

String Quartet No 6

Aeolian String Quartet

Nox: Sarah Nicolls (piano)

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Christopher Austin (conductor).


Donald Macleod turns his attention to matters of the heart, and the impact which Lutyens' two marriages had on her life and career.

There's also a rare chance to hear archive footage of a propaganda score she wrote to support the war effort, plus more music recorded specially for the programme by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Stevie Smith Songs: Be Off!

Meriel Dickinson (mezzo-soprano)

Peter Dickinson (piano)

Stevie Smith Songs: Lady Rogue Singleton

Verses of Love

Ionian Singers

Timothy Salter (conductor)

Music for Orchestra 11

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Christopher Austin (conductor)

And Suddenly It's Evening

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Herbert Handt (tenor/director).


The BBC was, for Lutyens, both a blessing and a source of frustration.

Without it she would never have met some of her greatest allies, but it also brought a long-held suspicion that her work was not held in high regard by a number of key thinkers.

Donald Macleod unravels her complex dealings with the corporation and also introduces one of the most significant works of her career, newly recorded for the programme by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Lament of Isis on the Death of Osiris

Jane Manning (soprano)

Motet: Excerpta Tractatus-Logico-philosophicus, Op 27

BBC Singers

James Wood (conductor)

The Valley of Hatsu-Se

Jane's Minstrels

Roger Montgomery (conductor)


Music for Orchestra IV

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Christopher Austin (conductor).


Over the years the press took every chance to dig its claws into Lutyens.

As the daughter of a famous architect with a profligate lifestyle and radical musical style, she was a gift to any imaginative journalist.

Donald Macleod re-evaluates the brickbats hurled over the decades and discovers how Lutyens often turned them to her advantage.

Six Bagatelles, Op 133, No 5

Brunel Ensemble

Christopher Austin (conductor)

O Saisons, O Chateaux

Teresa Cahill (soprano)


BBC National Orchestra of Wales

La Natura dell'Acqua

Sarah Nicolls (piano)

The Skull (1965)

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Jac Van Steen (conductor).

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Donald Macleod ends his week with a look at how Lutyens came to terms with her own insecurities, both as an artist and as an individual.

There's also a chance to hear Lutyens reading from her own autobiography A Goldfish Bowl, recorded for BBC Radio in 1973.

Chorale for Orchestra

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Elgar Howarth (conductor)

Driving Out the Death

The London Oboe Quartet

Triolet I

Jane's Minstrels

Encore-Maybe (1982)

Thalia Myers (piano)

Echo of the Wind (1981)

Paul Silverthorne (viola).