Elisabeth Lutyens: Horror Queen

Female film composers are a rarity but there are some wonderful examples of talented women working behind the scenes who managed to flourish under the tight deadlines imposed by film studios while creating memorable music for the movies.

One of my favorite female composers is the late Elisabeth Lutyens who was born on July 9th in 1906. On the occasion of what would have been her 109th birthday if she had managed to live that long, I thought I’d celebrate her career in British horror films where Lutyens earned her “Horror Queen” moniker by composing some of the genre’s most innovative, accomplished and unsettling soundtracks.

Elisabeth Lutyens started life as the daughter of Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton and the famed British architect Edwin Lutyens. She was one of five children and inherited her father’s ambition as well as his creative passion. Her parent’s marriage was not a happy one and it became especially strained when her mother developed an obsession with the study of Theosophy along with Eastern mysticism, which she cultivated in their children. Much like Spiritualism, Theosophy had become somewhat fashionable in 19th century Britain particularly among the upper classes. In an effort to win her mother’s affection and stand out in a family of would-be writers and one towering architect, 9-year-old Lutyens told her parents that she wanted to become a composer and they encouraged her to take piano and violin lessons. Seven years later she began training at École Normale de Musique de Paris (National School of Music of Paris) and this was followed by a brief period of private study in London with the accomplished composer John Foulds. In 1926, Lutyens enrolled in the Royal College of Music where her focus was on musical composition.

Continue reading “Elisabeth Lutyens: Horror Queen of Film Composers” at Turner Classic Movies official blog: The Movie Morlocks