The purpose of this thesis is to illuminate the paradoxical work of British serialist Elisabeth Lutyens. Musical Englishness in the mid-twentieth century was mainly conceived of as tonal, narrative and folk or folk-inspired. Lutyens was an oddity in the English musical scene as a serialist, but she utilized many of the qualities of traditional Englishness while maintaining a modern, idiomatic sound. Although this combination seems paradoxical, Englishness can be understood in far more inclusive terms than simply tonal, narrative, or folk-like. I begin by defining Englishness as it was perceived and promoted through mainstream music festivals or radio broadcasts from the BBC, as well as the origins of English characteristics. Although the BBC was certainly not the only musical institution in England, it was the most widely accessible and well-funded one. Next, I place Lutyens within this context, bearing in mind the conservative opinion of serialism and the general expectations of female composers. In the last chapter, I use my analysis of Lutyens’s 1959-60 orchestral piece Quincunx to demonstrate Lutyens’s synthesis of musical Englishness with that of serialism. This thesis will examine Lutyens’s music as stylistically modern and traditionally English while deconstructing the motivation of musical Englishness as a neo-national tool in post-WWII.

Degree Date

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name





Dr. Peter Kupfer



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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