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Classical 101

Another Glass Ceiling Shattered in Music, This Time by the Queen

It's a title considered in Great Britain the musical equivalent of Poet Laureate. And for more than 300 years it has been held exclusively by men. Until now. By appointment of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, composer Judith Weir became today the first female Master of the Queen's Music, according to the BBC. The position of Master of the King's Music was created in the first half of the seventeenth century, during the reign of Charles I. Originally a position that called upon its occupants to direct the monarch's private band or orchestra, today the Master of the Queen's Music carries prestige and a stipend, and also the occasional responsibility to compose music for state occasions. Since 1893 the title of Master of the King's/Queen's Music has been held by a composer, and the list of incumbents includes some of Britain's most noted names: Edward Elgar, Arnold Bax and, most recently, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Weir served as resident composer of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra during the 1990s and, in 2015, will begin a three-year term as associate composer with the BBC Singers. Weir's term as Master of the Queen's Music will last 10 years. Read more: 

  • Judith Weir to be First Female Master of the Queen's Music (BBC)
  • Judith Weir To Be Appointed First Female Master of Queen's Music (Guardian)
  • Judith Weir as Master of the queen's Music i a Vital Step for New Composers (Guardian)