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Janet Craxton

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Janet Craxton (1929-1981) - English oboist, daughter of the widely valued pianist and pedagogue Harold Craxton. She studied at the London Royal Academy of Music (where she herself taught from 1958), and at the Paris Conservatory. She was lead oboist in several orchestras: the Hallé, London Mozart Players, and Covent Garden. She was active as in chamber performance, founding the London Oboe Quartet in 1967, and co-founding the London Sinfonietta two years later. As soloist she gave many world premieres of contemporary works. Her unique tone and phrasing was instantly recognizable to the lovers of her artful performances.

Following the death of her husband, the pianist and composer Alan Richardson (d. 1978), Janet Craxton commissioned a memorial composition from Witold Lutosławski. At the time, the composer felt a need to expand the role of melody, constructing "more simple, thin textures" and chords with a lesser number of elements. As he revealed to Tadeusz Kaczyński, "the first sample of the new [compositional] procedure is Epitaph for oboe and piano". Janet Craxton and the pianist Ian Brown gave the world premiere of Epitaph on January 3, 1980, at London's Wigmore Hall at a concert dedicated to the memory of Alan Richardson.

kt / trans. mk