We held our last meeting on Monday evening (10 May 2021) using a combination of Zoom and YouTube. It was a presentation by Ruth of a selection of humoresques. She said ‘a humoresque is not necessarily funny, but they do tend to have a whimsical, flippant character, and a general disregard for musical convention.’ You can listen to her selection – which is well worth while – by following this YouTube link: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDYYr-sXg1St6Iys2ElVT3tRHS-btqDs2
It has been a funny season where we have not of course, been able to meet. However, the online format has worked surprisingly well and has enabled a different perspective from our normal modus operandi. We have been able to see some of the performances as well as listen which does sometimes add to the experience. When we meet in person again – which we hope to do in the autumn – we plan to do more of the visual presentations using the screen the music room has installed.
Details of the 2021/22 programme are now being put together and will be posted here and in leaflet form around the town as before (Oxfam, TIC and Library).
The second meeting of the Society using a combination of Zoom and YouTube took place on 19 October 2020 and concerned the Czech composer Zelenka presented by Peter Horwood. There are many who may not have heard of this composer, born in the town of Lounovice near Prague in 1679. His problem – if it can be described thus – was to be around at roughly the same time as Bach and Handel and so his fame was eclipsed after his death.
We listened and watched his Missa Votiva in E minor performed by Collegium 1704 under the energetic baton of Václav Luks. The playing and singing was of a very high standard and the conductor kept to a brisk tempo. The YouTube video was not of a high quality and may also have been compressed so that the full range of sound was not fully available. The recording took place in a large church yet there were no dynamic problems one usually experiences in these large spaces.
Although the music was harmonically rich, it did lack much in the way of memorable melody which might explain his low profile after his death. He was nevertheless a composer of great talent and does deserve to be heard more. As we have said before, one of the roles of the Society is to bring to the fore some of these lesser lights who sometimes get swept aside by musical titans of Bach, Mozart or Beethoven etc.
For those who want to know more there is a Website which tells you more and also lists recordings available on CD or for download.
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.
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.
This was the title of the last presentation to the Society by Ed Tinline. As the title suggests it was a presentation around the trumpet but Ed also included examples of other brass instruments some of which he brought in and one he attempted to play.
The essential point about brass instruments is that the sound is formed by the lips in a mouth piece and then amplified by a conical tube. Originally, in ancient times, the tubes were very long but the idea of coiling them into the current shapes we see in the modern orchestra made them more manageable. The addition of valves also made creating a range of sounds possible. The brass instruments differ from a saxophone say, because the sound in that instrument is created by a reed – similar to a clarinet – so although made from brass it is not in fact classed as a brass instrument. Although almost all instruments were made of metal, the serpent for example was made of wood but still relied on a mouthpiece to make the sound. He also explained the role of ‘crooks’ to alter the pitch of the instrument.
Ed played a mixed selection of pieces starting with an extract from the Messiah which gave the evening its title. We then heard Purcell’s Sonata for trumpet in D major and this was followed by Albinoni’s Concerto for trumpet and organ in F major – and odd paring of instruments but it did in fact work quite well.
A type of horn is the alphorn and Leopold Mozart composed a concerto for alphorn and strings arranged by Dennis Brain. Rimsky Korsakov’s Concerto for trombone and wind band premiered at a garrison concert in 1878. To finish the first half we heard part 1 of the Horn Concerto op 23 by Mathew Taylor who was born in 1964 in London. Well, we didn’t quite finish the first half with that piece but with Flanders and Swann’s Ill Wind, a take off to words of the famous rondo from Mozart’s Horn Concerto No 4.
… and the second half started off with the real thing. Mozart wrote his horn concertos for his friend Joseph Leutgeb with whom he had a lifelong – if occasionally stormy friendship. The instrument of the day was difficult to play and Leutgeb was obviously a skilled performer.
A familiar horn piece is of course Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man written to rally the troop at the entry of the USA into the Second World War. It’s a piece which is frequently played at public occasions.
An interesting arrangement for brass of Chopin’s Mazurka No 47 in A minor by D Abrams followed. Gerard Hoffnung was one of the tuba players in this witty piece. Then it was the first movement of Vaughan William’s Tuba Concerto composed in 1954. It was originally regarded as a rather eccentric piece but has become an established part of the repertoire.
The final three pieces were by Sibelius: Allegro for brass ensemble and triangle, a piece he submitted anonymously for a competition but did not win! Holst’s March from the Moorside Suite came next and then part of Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony to finish. Except, not quite because we heard the Pasadena Roof Orchestra play a piece featuring the Sousaphone. The instrument was designed for street performance where a big sound was needed but a tuba was too difficult to carry (see photo).
A fascinating evening which illustrated the various issues surrounding brass instruments as well a careful selection of music from several eras.
The new seasons programme has now been agreed and contains an exciting mix of composers and presentations. Starting on Monday 17th of September with Anthony Powell’s intriguingly entitled: One composer’s journey into silence and then to resignation.
The programme includes presentations on Debussy, Ravel and Elgar among others. There is also an evening on the music of Valentin Alkan – a ‘neglected genius’ as the presenter will say. We heard something of him last season so hearing more will be interesting. There are many such composers who were immensely popular in their day but are almost unheard of now.
We will be posting details nearer the time so keep an eye on this site to see what’s happening.
If you are not a member details are on a tab at the top of the site and remember parking is easy and free.
Entry is £3 for visitors.
The full programme can be downloaded from the link below and may we ask members to print off a copy and possibly give it to someone who might be interested. We are printing the leaflets so they should be available next week in Oxfam and the TIC (if it hasn’t disappeared that is).
The second half of the season starts tonight, Monday 5 February and we are delighted to welcome Simon Coombs from the Vaughan Williams Society who is going to discuss and play music by this great English composer. Starts at 7:30 as usual and is only £3 to non-members. Parking is easy and free and details of how to find us are on the ‘Find us’ tab at the top of the site.
We look forward to welcoming existing members back also any new visitors.
NB the programme says 4 October which is incorrect – it is tonight 2nd.
The title of the next meeting is Music from the Schubert Centenary International Composers’ contest of 1928. It will be presented by Robin Lim and starts at 7:30 in the usual place on Monday 2 October. Visitors are welcome and there is a modest fee of £3 to cover our expenses. The evening will start with a brief agm.
[If you saw the piece in last week’s Salisbury Journal, that referred to the previous meeting on Busoni but the item was held over]