Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)



To mark the centenary of her birth, Donald Macleod begins a survey of the work of Dame Elizabeth Maconchy, described as 'one of the most substantial composers these islands have yet produced'.

She was a hugely influential and radical voice in British music of the 20th century.

Her music is elegant, precise, 'an intense but disciplined expression of emotion', as she herself once remarked.

String Quartet No 5

Bingham String Quartet

My Dark Heart

Jane Manning (soprano)


Odaline de la Martinez (conductor)

Concertino No 1 for Clarinet

Thea King (clarinet)

English Chamber Orchestra

Barry Wordsworth (conductor).


Donald Macleod is joined by composer Nicola Lefanu to discuss the legacy of her mother, Dame Elizabeth 'Betty' Maconchy.

One of the most brilliant British composers of the 20th century, her extensive catalogue includes a cycle of 13 string quartets, the second of which is the centrepiece of the programme.

Serenata concertante for violin and orchestra

Manoug Parikian (violin)

London Symphony Orchestra

Vernon Handley (conductor)

String Quartet No 2

Hanson String Quartet


BBC Singers

Nicholas Kok (conductor).


Donald Macleod continues the series marking the centenary of Maconchy's birth in conversation with composer Nicola Lefanu, daughter of Elizabeth Maconchy.

She was only 23 when her suite, The Land, received an acclaimed premiere at the 1930 season of Proms concerts.

That was one crucial early step in an illustrious career that would see Maconchy become one of Britain's most admired composers.

The Land

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Jason Lai (conductor)

Clarinet Quintet

Thea King (clarinet)

Britten String Quartet

Symphony for Double String Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra

Vernon Handley (conductor).


Donald Macleod, in conversation with Maconchy's daughter composer Nicola Lefanu, looks at the 1970s, by which time Elizabeth Maconchy had become established as a very influential presence in British music, not only enriching a wide range of musical forms with her compositions, but also making major contributions to such organisations as the Society for the Promotion of New Music.


Heather Harper (soprano)

English Chamber Orchestra

Raymond Leppard (conductor)

Oboe Quartet

London Oboe Quartet

Colloquy for flute and piano

Ingrid Culliford (flute)

Dominic Saunders (piano)

Siren's Song

Ionian Singers

Timothy Salter (conductor).

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Donald Macleod concludes his series of programmes featuring the music of Dame Elizabeth Maconchy in the week that marks the centenary of her birth.

Joined in conversation by composer Nicola Lefanu, Maconchy's daughter, Macleod explores the work of this brilliant composer who described her music as 'an intellectual art, a balanced statement of ideas, an impassioned argument', sentiments perhaps nowhere more forcibly articulated than in her cycle of 13 string quartets, the tenth of which features in this programme.

Have You Seen But a Bright Lily Grow

Anthony Rolfe-Johnson (tenor)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Proud Thames

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Vernon Handley (conductor)

Sun Moon and Stars

Tracey Chadwell (soprano)

Pamela Lidiard (piano)

String Quartet No 10

Mistry String Quartet


Raphael Wallfisch (cello)

South West German Chamber Orchestra

William Boughton (conductor).