Born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 27 May 1928, Thea Musgrave studied first at the University of Edinburgh and later at the Conservatoire in Paris, where she spent four years as a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, before establishing herself back in London as a prominent member of British musical life with her orchestral, choral, operatic, and chamber works. Rich and powerful musical language and a strong sense of drama have made Scottish American composer Thea Musgrave one of the most respected and exciting contemporary composers in the Western world.
Her compositions were first performed under the auspices of the British Broadcasting Corporation and at the Edinburgh International Festival. As a result her works have been widely performed in Britain, Europe and the USA, and at the major music festivals, such as Edinburgh, Warsaw Autumn, Florence Maggio Musicale, Venice Biennale, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and Zagreb; on most of the European and American broadcasting stations; and on many regular symphony concert series.
Thea Musgrave has earned great respect for her work both as a composer and conductor at a time when these were still rather uncommon professions for a woman. In 1970 she became Guest Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which anchored her increasing involvement with the musical life of the United States. In 1971 she married the American violist and opera conductor Peter Mark, and has resided in the U.S. since 1972. With such a large and varied career and catalogue, Thea Musgrave is frequently interviewed and questioned about being a 'woman' composer, to which she has replied; 'Yes, I am a woman; and I am a composer. But rarely at the same time.