Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be on Monday 24th February at 7.30pm in our usual venue
where Jon Hampton, chair of Music in Salisbury and a good friend of our Society, will be presenting “From Art to Music – how great art has inspired great music”.

Jon will deliver a wide ranging survey of how great works of art have inspired composers to write great music with a few surprises in store.

I hope you will be able to attend.

Free parking outside the venue.  Only £3 for non-members.

Berlioz’s vocal music

Our next meeting will be on Monday 10th February at 7.30pm in our usual venue, hen Peter Curbishley will be presenting: ‘Berlioz’s Vocal Music’. Peter will explore Berlioz’s vast output of vocal music, with a wealth of examples.
I hope you will be able to attend.

Free parking.  £3 to non-members

Behold the sea …

It is perhaps not too surprising that an island nation should feature the sea in the compositions of its native composers.  Examples of these – from well known and some less well known composers – featured in the last meeting of the Society on 27 January 2020.

Society member Ed Tinline kicked of the second half of the season with a wide selection of pieces composed by British composers, all with the sea as their inspiration.

We started with part of Vaughan William’s Symphony No 1, A Sea Symphony composed in 1909.  Inspiration for the symphony came in part from Walt Whitman.  It was premiered when he was 38 and established him as a leading composer.

Brighton born Frank Bridge was next with his Symphonic Suite: The Sea composed in 1910.  Then a piece by Judith Weir with her Lament, Over the Sea from her The Bagpiper’s String Trio first performed in 1989.  Judith was the first woman to be appointed Master of the Queen’s Music.

Next – another woman – Ethyl Smyth with her Overture: The Wreckers from 1906.  I wrote ‘jaunty’ at one point with some interesting orchestral colours.  Dame Ethel Mary Smyth attained prominence as one of the most accomplished female composers in a male dominated environment, and as one of the main representatives of the suffragette movement.  Tchaikovsky said of her ‘[she] one of the few women composers whom one can seriously consider to be achieving something valuable in the field of musical creation’.  Source: British Library.

The first half ended with Arnold Bax’s On the Sea-shore And Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

The second half started with the unfamiliar Mass of the Sea composed by Paul Patterson composed in 1983.  Next was By the Sleepy Lagoon written at Selsey by Eric Coates – who like Frank Bridge, was born in Brighton – looking across the bay and is used as the theme for Desert Island Discs on Radio 4.

The Kent coast inspired David Matthew’s Overture: From Sea to Sky composed quite recently in 1992.  The Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes are very familiar.  Interestingly, Britten was taught composition by Frank Bridge.

The penultimate piece was The Needles by Matthew Taylor commissioned by the LSE Music Society in 2000.  Finally we returned to Elgar and another of his Sea Pictures composed at the end of the nineteenth century.

A fascinating evening and a wide range of music based on this one idea.

Peter Curbishley


Next month’s meeting is Berlioz’s vocal music and is on Monday 10 February. 

 

Next meeting

The second half of the season kicks off on Monday 27 January with an evening devoted to the music of Vaughan Williams and other British composers .  Ed Tinline will present the evening entitled Behold the sea.

It starts at 7:30 and where to find us is on one of the tabs at the top of the site.  There is free parking outside and access is reasonable for those with disabilities (a small step).  £3 for non-members.  We look forward to seeing you.

PC

Members’ evening

A members’ evening following the agm doesn’t sound like a barrel of fun but in fact it was an outstanding evening with some interesting pieces.   We must thank Robin for assembling the programme for the Society.

First up was the first half of Brahms’s magisterial Piano Concerto No1 played by Stephen Kovacevich.  This can be ‘overplayed’ and I have been to concerts where the pianist seems determined to put the concerto to death but what we heard of this version was finely balanced and it was a pity we could not have heard the whole of it.

Second up was Joseph Kosma’s Les Feuilles Mortes sung by Gigi Marga – a version with the composer can be seen here: https://youtu.be/12BRQQd7myM

Few may have heard of Ginette Neveu, a French violinist but her playing is quite distinctive and, at the risk of sounding like a Classic FM announcer, extremely smooth.  The sound was somewhere between a violin and a viola, quite magical and the adagio from Sibelius’s Violin Concerto was wonderful.

Beatrice and Benedict was Berlioz’s last opera and had some success in Germany.  He wrote it soon after the Trojans disaster and we heard Je vais le voir – Il me revient fidèle in a performance by the LSO and conducted by the late Sir Colin Davies.

The first half ended with the amazingly difficult Violin Sonata in G minor – 3rd movement “Devil’s Trill Sonata” by Tartini the inspiration for which supposedly came to him in a dream.

In the second half we had a audio-visual presentation of Gigue Fugue BWV 577 by JS Bach, played on the organ and which was the music played at the presenter’s marriage.  This mode of playing music was the first for the Society.

Few will have heard of the woman composer and pianist Guirne Creith not least because although not prolific, many or her compositions were lost after her death.  She had a very varied life, not just as a musician but – following her move to France – as a food writer under the name of Guirne van Zylen.  Her best known work is a Violin Concerto from which we heard the Adagio.

After Andantino from Sibelius’s 3rd Symphony, The Man I Love by Gershwin played by Don Shirley.  Shirley was a precocious musician who was the subject of the 2018 film Green Book.  Being black, he had to take a bodyguard with him when he performed in the southern states of the USA.

A most interesting and varied evening with a mixture of the well known and some more or less completely unknown works.

Peter Curbishley


The next meeting is on 11 November and is a presentation on some less well known British composers. 7:30 start as usual.