Magical Serialism: Modernist Enchantment in Elisabeth Lutyens's O Saisons, O Châteaux!

Forkert, Annika (2017) Magical Serialism: Modernist Enchantment in Elisabeth Lutyens's O Saisons, O Châteaux! Twentieth Century Music, 14 (2). pp. 271-303.

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Elisabeth Lutyens's music of the 1940s and 1950s provides one important, but frequently overlooked, link between British music and modernism before the so-called Manchester School. I argue that the main reason that the composer and her music have not yet received much attention is that early twentieth-century modernism, as it is commonly understood, has been gendered masculine. This article engages with the composition, texts, and reception of Lutyens's 1946 cantata O saisons, ô châteaux! in the context of other Lutyens pieces in order to argue that the composer sought to transcend what she perceived as a complex of disadvantages in the reception of her music (both regarding her gender and composition technique): the Cantata is an essentially melodic piece of ‘magical serialism’. Rather than ‘taming’ or ‘feminizing’ her serial music, Lutyens thus carves out a place for herself as Arthur Rimbaud's magician, reflecting on the set text of O saisons, ô châteaux! and anticipating her later ‘credo’, in which she declares her music's allegiance with secret science rather than note counting or personal branding.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: The final published version is available online via CUP at
Keywords: serial music; modernism; woman composer; women in music; british music; serialism; elisabeth lutyens
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of Creative and Performing Arts
Depositing User: Annika Forkert
Date Deposited: 22 May 2018 11:04
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2018 08:05

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