Magazine article Musical Times

In Memoriam: Janet Owen Thomas

Magazine article Musical Times

In Memoriam: Janet Owen Thomas

Article excerpt

Janet Owen Thomas

Janet Owen Thomas began her career as an organist but devoted the final decade of her relatively short life to the composition of a small body of fastidiously crafted vocal and chamber works, the majority of them only a few minutes long. Although her education followed the conventional route of the aspiring organ virtuoso, her interests extended far beyond the cathedral close: she became fascinated by science - astronomy, fractals, and algorithms and her literary sympathies were broad - among the poets she set were Verlaine, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, and Wendy Cope - and she dearly wished to write an opera on Racine's Phaedre.

She was born in 1961, in Merseyside, to Welsh and German parents, and attended Merchant Taylors' Girls School in Liverpool, and St Hugh's College Oxford, where her teachers included James Dalton and Nicholas Danby for organ, and Derrick Puffett and Robert Saxton for composition. A scholarship to Hamburg, where she studied briefly with Ligeti, led to a commission from the German organist Johannes Geffert, Rosaces, subsequently published by Novello. …

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