English music

The meeting tonight (Monday 11 November) concentrates on some less well known English composers presented by Christopher Guild.  7:30 as usual.

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.

George Lloyd

George Lloyd was born in 1913 in St Ives (Cornwall) and had a traumatic life.  Both his parents were keen musicians and encouraged his talent from an early age.  Illness meant he was taught at home then left to continue his studies in London.

He wrote his first symphony at 19 which was premiered in Penzance.  We heard the Introduction,  Theme and Five Variations and it was music which showed great accomplishment.  Two other symphonies followed as well as two operas; The Serf and Lernin.  The latter was also first performed in Penzance before being transferred to London where it had an unusually long run.  Alan Forshaw, the presenter, played the Duet from the opera and it was an outstanding piece of music.

A crucial event in his life was joining the Marines as a bandsman and took part in the awful North Cape convoys to supply the Red Army in WWII.  A most terrible event took place in many of his fellow marines were drowned in fuel oil.  This affected his mental wellbeing and prolonged hospitalisation with what was still being called shellshock, now called PTSD.

It was physically difficult for him to write music because of the shaking but with devoted care from his wife he was able to start again.  A movement from a subsequent symphony demonstrated a change in style.

He wrote music for brass bands and one such was HMS Trinidad March, the ship he had served on.  He had almost no success with commissions from the BBC with his scores returned with no comment.  A member of the audience suggested this might have been the influence of William Glock and the pressure to use the 12 tone scale which Lloyd has little time for.

He quit the musical life and he and his wife opened a market garden in Dorset.  He began to be appreciated in later life and had some of his work performed at the Proms and he did well in America.  Albany Records recorded several of his works.  We heard a movement from the 4th Piano Concerto and a movement from the 6th Symphony.  Other pieces included extracts from the Requiem, and the Black Dyke Mills Band playing a memoriam following the IRA atrocity in the Royal parks.

For those of us who knew little of this composer’s work it was a revelation.  He had a sure touch when it came to orchestration.  I felt his style would have suited film music where he may have done well.  We were grateful to Alan for his work in preparing the evening.

Peter Curbishley


Please note we now have a page on Facebook – Salisbury recorded music society.

Next meeting on 28 October  

Next meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday 14 October at 7:30 as usual.  It will be a presentation by Alan Forshaw on the music of George Lloyd, probably a composer few have heard of.  He was born in St Ives, Cornwall and showed early talent.  He wrote twelve symphonies and four piano concertos.  His sixth symphony was performed at the Proms.   He was principal conductor for an orchestra in the United States.

He had a traumatic war experience in the navy.  We look forward to seeing you to hear more of the life and music of this composer.

2019/20 programme

The new season’s programme is now available

We are pleased to attach the new programme for 2019 – 20.  It is an exciting programme with a lot to interest people who like classical music.  Several presenters have chosen an English theme this year – five in all – as well as other classics such as Handel and Berlioz.  There are two members’ evenings which are open to non members.  You can download the programme from here although there will be hard copies available in the Tourist Office; Oxfam’s Music Room and the Library.

Hard copies of the programme is available in the Tourism Information Centre in Fish Row, Oxfam Music Room in Catherine St; and in Salisbury and Amesbury Libraries.

Entrance for non members is £3.

Programme 2019 – 20 (pdf)