Who was the first British woman Master of the Queen’s Music?

JUDITH WEIR b.1954

The post of Master of the Queen’s Music is a title given to people eminent in the field of classical music usually a composer.

Duties are not clearly defined athough it is expected that the holder of the post will write music to commemorate important royal events, such as coronations, birthdays, anniversaries, marriages and deaths, and to accompany other ceremonial occasions.

The individual may also act as the Sovereign’s adviser in musical matters.

Since 2004 the appointment has been for a fixed term of ten years rather than for life, as previously.

The current holder of the position is the first woman, Judith Weir.

The first appointee was Nicholas Lanier in 1626. He was appointed by Charles I as Master of the King’s Musick but the role ended during the Civil War. The honour was re-instated by Charles II and Lanier returned to the post. The longest serving Master was John Eccles who served four monarchs over a period of thirty five years. The ‘k’ was dropped from the title in 1924 when Sir Edward Elgar became the Master of the King’s Music.

Judith Weir has achieved international recognition for her orchestral and chamber works although she is best known for her operas and theatrical works.

image credit: Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

Who was the first British woman Poet Laureate?

CAROL ANN DUFFY b.1955

Appointment as Poet Laureate is an honour which is bestowed by the monarch to a renowned poet of the day.

The monarch is advised by the Prime Minister as to who should be the recipient of the title.

The role is not a job as such but there is an expectation that the Poet Laureate will write verse for significant occasions in national life.

The origins of the laueateship date back to 1616 when the poet Ben Johnson was provided with a pension but the first recipient of the actual title was John Dryden in 1668. Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. John Masefield, C. Day-Lewis, John Betjeman and Ted Hughes have all been appointed as Poet Laureate.

However, it wasn’t until 2009 that the honour was bestowed on a woman.

Carol Ann Duffy is the professor of contemporary poetry at  Manchester Metropolitan University. As well as first female Poet Laureate she is the first Scottish Poet Laureate and the first openly LBGT Poet Laureate. She resigned as Poet Laureate in 2019.